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Coronary CT Angiogram

A computed tomography (CT) coronary angiogram is a minimally invasive imaging test. It allows your cardiologist to look at the arteries that carry blood to the heart in order to diagnose and treat a number of heart conditions.

Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento provides exceptional diagnostics for our heart and vascular patients. Our physicians use the latest technology to ensure an accurate diagnosis so we can provide you with the best course of cardiology treatment available.

What To Expect During CT Coronary Angiogram

Unlike a traditional coronary angiogram, CT coronary angiogram does not involve your heart doctor inserting a catheter into the body. Instead, this procedure uses special X-ray equipment to take pictures and a computer that uses them to create 3-D views.

The test may take up to 2 hours, depending on whether contrast (a liquid that improves the image) is used.

Before the scan:

  • You may be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • You will be asked to remove metal objects including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids and removable dental work.
  • You may be given a special dye called contrast either through an intravenous line (IV) or by injection.

During the procedure, you will lie on a table that slides into the CT scanner, a large machine with a hole in the middle. The technologist will ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds during your scan.

After the test, you can go back to your normal diet and activities right away. Any contrast will pass naturally through your body within a day.

After the procedure, you may need to wait briefly while your images are being reviewed. Your doctor will discuss the test results with you during a follow-up appointment or over the phone.

CT Coronary Angiogram: Benefits Vs. Risks


  • May eliminate the need for surgery. If surgery remains necessary, it can be performed more accurately
  • Ability to detect narrowing of blood vessels in time for corrective therapy to be done
  • More precise anatomical detail of blood vessels than magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • A less invasive and more patient-friendly procedure than catheter angiography
  • No radiation remains in a patient's body after a CT examination
  • Usually have no side effects from X-rays in CT scans


  • Slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation
  • Special medication may be required if you have a history of allergy to X-ray contrast material to lessen the risk of allergic reaction
  • Skin damage or damage to blood vessels and nerves, though unlikely, can result if a large amount of X-ray contrast material leaks out from the vessel being injected and spreads under the skin where the IV is placed
  • Risks associated with exposure to radiation for pregnant women

Preparing For CT Coronary Angiogram

If you are scheduled for a CT angiogram, be sure to follow any instructions your doctor provides. Also:

  • Be sure to mention the medications you take and ask if it is okay to take them before the test.
  • If instructed, stop eating and drinking 8 hours before your CT.
  • If instructed, drink contrast (a liquid that improves the image) 8 hours before your CT
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure.
  • You will be asked to remove metal objects including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids and removable dental work.
  • Women should always inform their physician and the technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
  • Arrive on time to check in