Steps of a Cardiac CT

Coronary calcium CT

Coronary calcium CT does not require any specific preparation.  Once you are done with registration and the scanner is ready, you will be brought to the scanner.  The CT technologist will go over how the scan is done, followed by performing the scan.  You can leave the imaging center as soon as the scan is completed.

Cardiac CT angiogram

If you are referred for a cardiac CT angiogram, expect the following:

Before the day of cardiac CT

Your doctor may ask you to get some blood drawn to check kidney function.  This is done because the liquid contrast used to light up the heart has a small risk of worsening kidney problems in patients who already have abnormal kidney function.

On the day of cardiac CT

1    You may be asked by your doctor to take 1 or 2 oral doses of a medication called metoprolol before arriving at the imaging center.  Metoprolol safely reduces heart rate to improve quality of the cardiac CT and reduce amount of radiation needed to complete the scan.

2    Once registration is complete at the imaging center, a nurse will place an intravenous (IV) catheter in your right or left elbow crease.  If you didn’t have a recent blood check for kidney function, the nurse will draw some blood to check kidney function.

3    If your kidney function is not normal, the nurse will give you fluid through the IV catheter to minimize risk of kidney injury from the contrast liquid.  If this is done, please expect to receive IV fluid for 2 hours.

4    The nurse may give you additional oral metoprolol to safely lower the heart rate for the scan, as described in step 1.

5    The nurse or medical assistant will ask you to fill out a questionnaire about your health.

6    You will be brought to the CT scanner.  Once you are lying on the scanner bed, the nurse will give you a dose of nitroglycerin under your tongue.  Nitroglycerin is a short-acting medicine that temporarily enlarges the size of the heart arteries to help diagnose disease.

7    The CT technologist and nurse will go over what to expect during the scan and give you instructions about breathing and holding still to help make the scan as high-quality as possible.

8    The CT technologist will perform the scan.

9    You will be brought back to the waiting area where the nurse will go over discharge instructions and remove the IV catheter before you leave the imaging center.