Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)
Computed tomography angiography (CTA) is an imaging test. It uses X-rays and computer technology to make detailed pictures of your arteries. Before the test, an X-ray dye (contrast medium) is shot or injected into your vein. The dye makes it easier to see your blood vessels on the X-ray. Pictures are then taken with the CT scanner. A computer turns the CT images into 2- and 3-dimensional pictures.
Why CTA is done
CTA may be used to:
- Check arteries in your belly, neck, lungs, pelvis, kidneys, or brain.
- Look for a ballooning of the blood vessel wall (aneurysm) or a tear (dissection).
- Check if a tube (stent) used to keep an artery open is working well.
- Find damage to your arteries due to injuries.
- Collect details on blood vessels that supply blood to tumors.
Getting ready for your test
Tell your health care provider if you:
- Have diabetes
- Have kidney disease
- Are allergic to X-ray dye or other medicines
- Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
- Are taking any medicines, herbs, or supplements. This includes over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
You may be told not to eat or drink anything for a few hours before the CTA. Follow any other instructions from your provider.
During your test
- You will be asked to remove any hair clips, jewelry, false teeth, or other metal items that could show up on the X-ray.
- You will lie down on the scanning table. An IV (intravenous) line will be put in a vein in your arm or hand.
- The scanning table will be properly placed. The part of your body being checked will be inside the doughnut-shaped CT scanner.
- One image may be taken first to be sure you are in the proper position for the test.
- The IV will be hooked up to an automatic injection machine. This controls how often and how fast the X-ray dye is injected. The injection may continue during part of the exam.
- The dye will be put into your vein through the IV line. You may feel warmth through your body when the dye is injected.
- You can't move while the X-rays are being taken. Pillows and foam pads may be used to help you stay still. You will be told to hold your breath for 10 to 25 seconds at a time.
- The whole procedure may take 10 to 25 minutes.
After your test
- Drink plenty of fluids to help flush the X-ray dye from your body.
- You may eat as soon as you want to.
Risks of CTA
All procedures have some risks. A CTA has some possible minor risks. These include:
- Problems due to the X-ray dye, such as an allergic reaction or kidney damage
- Skin damage from leaking X-ray dye near where the IV was put in