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Computerized tomography angiography (CTA)

Computed tomography angiography (CTA) is an examination that uses X-rays to visualize blood flow in arterial and venous vessels throughout the body, from arteries serving the brain to those bringing blood to the lungs, kidneys and arms and legs. CT combines the use of X-rays with computerized analysis of the images. Beams of X-rays are passed from a rotating device through the patient's body from several angles to provide cross-sectional images, which are electronically assembled into a three-dimensional picture. The CTA is a much less invasive and more patient-friendly procedure than catheter angiography because it uses contrast material in place of a sizable catheter.

What to expect during your test or treatment

  • Your technologist will take you to a special room where the pictures will be taken, and you will be asked to change into a gown.
  • For most types of CT scans, you will be given a special dye, called a contrast material, so that the area of your body being examined will show up clearer in the pictures. In most cases, an IV needle will be placed in a vein in your arm, where this contrast material will be injected. You may be given an oral contrast material to drink to show your upper digestive tract.
    This usually takes 15 to 60 minutes or longer, depending on the body part being scanned. For certain types of CT scans, however, you will be given the contrast material by enema.
  • You may briefly feel a warm sensation as the contrast material begins to circulate into your body.
  • You will lie on a special scanning table with your arms by your side or over your head. Lying very still during your test is extremely important because movement can make the pictures look blurry and unclear.
  • The table is attached to a large donut-shaped scanner, and the table will move inside this scanner where the pictures will be taken.
  • Your technologist will operate the scanning machine from another room and will talk to you through an intercom system.
  • The test itself only lasts about 15 minutes, but you will need to stay for a brief time afterward so your technologist can be sure the pictures are clear. If not, they might be redone.

What to expect after your test or treatment

  • After the technologist checks your pictures for clarity, your IV will be removed and you will be free to leave.
  • You may resume your normal activities immediately, unless directed otherwise.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids will help flush the contrast material out of your system.
  • A radiologist will study the images and send a report to your doctor.
  • Your doctor will schedule a time to discuss the results with you.

Returning home

If you have any questions after returning home, please contact your physician.
Thank you again for choosing Norton Healthcare imaging services. It is a pleasure to serve you.

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