Coronary Angiogram and Cardiac CT Angiogram

What is a coronary angiogram?

Angiography is an imaging method that allows a doctor to take a closer look at the blood vessels and arteries, usually around the heart. A coronary angiogram traditionally involves use of a catheter (thin, flexible tube) that is carefully guided through an artery in the leg (femoral) up into the heart. A contrast dye injected into the catheter spreads throughout the veins in and around the heart. The dye "highlights" the moving heart and vessels so that X-ray images can be taken to capture the different angles of the heart and help the doctor identify narrowed arteries. During a traditional angiogram, the doctor can also perform minor repairs and surgical procedures. The angiogram itself takes approximately 30 minutes but there is preparation and recovery time that may take most of the day.

What is a cardiac CT angiogram?

Also called multi-slice computed tomography (MSCT), cardiac CT, cardiac CT angiogram (CTA) is a non-invasive alternative to traditional angiography and may be recommended for certain patients who have only a moderate risk of coronary heart disease.

A cardiac CT angiogram requires no catheterization and the contrast material is injected into an arm vein. With cardiac CT a powerful X-ray machine produces images of the heart and vessels. If narrowed or blocked arteries are discovered, a HeartFlow Analysis may be needed. A cardiac CT takes only about a minute and there is no recovery time needed.

Both cardiac CT and traditional coronary angiograms require low levels of radiation delivered by an X-ray machine. Your doctor will go over any risks and recommendations for you.