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Cardiac Computerized Axial Tomography


A cardiac computerized axial tomography (cardiac CT) is a test that uses x-rays and a computer to take pictures of your heart. The CT machine is shaped like a large ring and has a table that goes through it.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


A cardiac CT may not show certain heart problems, or may show a problem that is not really there. If you use a medical device such as a pacemaker, it may not work during or after your CT scan. Your kidneys may be damaged by the contrast dye, especially if you have diabetes or kidney disease. You may have an allergic reaction to the dye. If you do not have a cardiac CT, you may not find the source of your symptoms. Your signs and symptoms may get worse.


Before your test:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Medicines may be given to help improve the pictures of your heart. Beta-blockers slow your heartbeat so the CT can take clearer pictures. Nitroglycerin dilates your blood vessels so they can be seen more clearly during the CT.

During your test:

You will lie on a table. Caregivers may give you contrast dye through your IV. As the dye is given, you may feel warm. The table will be moved inside the CT machine. During your test, you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds. The cardiac CT usually takes 10 minutes or less. You will need to lie still during the test.

After your test:

Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Caregivers will check any medical devices, such as a pacemaker, to see that it is working properly. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be allowed to go home.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Cardiac Computerized Axial Tomography (Inpatient Care)

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