CT Angiogram Thoracic Aorta and Chest
CT angiogram is a radiological test that combines a CT scan and intravenous contrast dye injection. It uses a series of X-rays from different angles and a computer to create detailed images of blood vessels enhanced by the contrast dye. Through this technique, a doctor can visualize the diseases/conditions affecting blood vessels. For example, a CT angiogram chest is used to identify the conditions of the thoracic aorta and other blood vessels in the chest.
Why and when do you need this test?
Your doctor may advise a chest CT angiogram for the following reasons:
- Difficulty breathing and Chest pain (suggesting blood clots in the lungs)
- Trauma or injury to the chest
- To identify birth defects in the blood vessels
- Suspected inflammation of the blood vessels
- Suspected tear in the aorta (dissection)
- For evaluation before a planned procedure or surgery related to chest
Do you need to prepare for the test?
- For the CT scan angiogram, you will be requested to stop eating 3-4 hours before the test.
- You can drink clear fluids and take regular medications normally unless your doctor advises otherwise.
- You would be asked to remove jewelry, metal clips, or any metallic thing that can interfere with the radiation and may affect the image.
- You would be asked to wear an article of easy clothing to feel comfortable or given a hospital gown for the proper exposure of the area.
- CT scan uses X-rays which can be dangerous for the developing baby, so inform the doctor if you are pregnant.
- The contrast used for the procedure may have iodine and can cause some allergic reactions or endanger a diseased kidney. Inform your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to iodine, are diabetic, or have kidney disease.
What can you expect?
- The nurse will prick a vein in your hand or arm to establish a cannula for the injection of the contrast material.
- You will be asked to lie on the table with your arms above your head.
- The table will slide into the CT scan machine that looks like a large donut with a tunnel.
- You would be requested to lie down still and avoid movements to prevent the images from getting blurry.
- The test will last for about 15-20 minutes.
- Although the procedure is painless, you may feel discomfort lying on the hard table.
- You can also feel a warm flush in your body and a metallic taste in the mouth during the contrast injection, but it will go away soon.
Are there any risks to this test?
It is a non-invasive test that uses low doses of X-rays that poses no risks. However, X-rays can harm the baby inside the mother’s womb, so don’t forget to inform your doctor about your pregnancy.
The contrast material used can be harmful to diseased kidneys. Inform your doctor if you have kidney disease.
There is a slight chance of allergic reaction to the contrast material, but it can be controlled through medicines. Inform your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to iodine before.
If you are a diabetic patient and take metformin, inform your doctor, as it may interact with the contrast agent resulting in unwanted and harmful reactions.
What do the test results mean?
A chest CT angiogram may show the following disorders:
- Superior vena cava blockage
- Pulmonary embolism
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Aortic aneurysm (dilatation)
- Aortic dissection (tear)
- Vasculitis (Takayasu's arteritis)
- Aortic coarctation
- Pulmonary vascular stenosis
- Chest x-ray
- Cardiac CT
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