Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)
CTA is an examination that uses x-rays to visualize blood flow in arterial vessels throughout the body, from the arteries serving the brain to those bringing blood to the lungs, kidneys, arms and legs. Contrast media, commonly referred to as dye, is injected for all CTA procedures. The dye is used to help evaluate how well the blood flows and identify such abnormalities as blockage from disease, atherosclerosis, and potentially dangerous thrombosis (clots). This study can help with surgical planning for kidney transplant, provide more information about diseased vessels or rule out pulmonary embolisms.
Other uses for CT Angiography include the evaluation of the carotid arteries in the heart. Referred to as Coronary CT Angiography (CCTA), this use of the technology has spun off to create an alternative to invasive cardiac catheterization. CCTA affords patients a non-invasive alternative for evaluating the small vessels of the heart. The procedure provides information about blockages in the individual vessels that feed the heart and can identify whether or not the blockage consists of hard or soft plaque. CCTA also has the ability to determine how significant the blockage is with a specificity of 98% for a stenosis of 50% or greater.
With all Computed Tomography Angiographic procedures involving contrast media, you should discuss any previous diagnosis of renal failure with your doctor before starting your CTA exam.
Depending on the part of the body to be examined, you may be asked to take only clear liquids by mouth before a CTA. You will be asked whether you have asthma or any allergies to foods or drugs, and what medications you are currently taking before the procedure. You probably will not have to undress if you are having an exam of the head, neck, arms or legs but you will have to remove any jewelry, hair clips, dentures and other metal objects that could show up on the x-rays making them difficult to interpret. You will want to wear lose clothing as well as inform the technologist if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. If you are not pregnant but are breast feeding, please inform the technologist as there is a high likelihood your exam will require contrast media.
For the most up to date information, visit www.radiologyinfo.org, a website dedicated to radiology information from the patient perspective.