What is CTA?
Angiography is an imaging method that supports the diagnosis and treatment of vascular conditions. Our Humble facility performs Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA).
Computed Tomography Angiography is a medical examination performed to obtain accurate images of tissues and blood vessels that require observation. CTA involves the use of contrast media in order to enhance the appearance of the desired vessels when imaged with Computed Tomography or CT imaging.
Why is CTA performed?
Angiography may be performed to observe blood vessels in the kidneys, lungs, heart, brain, or other area for abnormalities such as:
- Injured blood vessels.
- Narrowed blood vessels (atherosclerosis).
- Aneurysm, an enlarged blood vessel.
- Abnormal formations of blood vessels in the brain.
- Blood clots in the lungs or other area.
- Tumor (angiography observes the blood vessels that feed the growth).
The data that is gathered during CTA may facilitate cancer treatment or may precede kidney transplant surgery. Findings may also help patients avoid heart attack or stroke by identifying serious risk factors that may be treated preventatively.
How to Prepare for a CTA Exam
Referring physicians may provide details for preparation, such as:
- Do not eat 3 hours prior to CTA examinations. Clear liquids are acceptable including water and broth.
- Continue taking prescribed medications as usual prior to the CTA scan.
- Exercise and caffeine should be avoided prior to chest CTA.
- It is recommended that jewelry be left at home.
- Comfortable clothing should be worn but a patient gown may be provided for this exam.
Patients who believe they may be pregnant should inform their doctor and GO Imaging before scheduling their CTA exam. An alternative exam will be offered to pregnant patients or patients who believe they may be pregnant in lieu of a CT. Individuals with abnormal kidney function, diabetes, or a history of allergic reaction to contrast media may be given special instructions by their physician.
What to Expect During a CTA Examination
CTA is routinely performed in our comfortable outpatient facility in Humble using a CT scan machine and contrast media. Prior to examination, the technologist is happy to answer questions and help you onto the exam table.
- It is important to remain absolutely still during the CTA.
- The technologist performs the CT scan from an adjacent room, where there is direct line-of-sight to the machine.
- An audio system enables patients to speak with their technologist if necessary.
- As the CT machine rotates around the exam table, it is normal to hear chirpping sounds.
- The technologist may request that a patient hold their breath for short periods during the exam.
- Some patients feel slightly affected by the contrast material that is injected via IV. This may include a metallic taste in the mouth, the sensation of flushing, slight nausea, or a mild headache. These effects usually pass within a few moments.
- At the completion of the examination, the table will slide out of the machine and the IV will be removed.
Is CTA performed under sedation?
Computed Tomography Angiograms are short exams that are typically completed within a few minutes. Although the exam takes place in a somewhat confined space, the short duration of the scan is tolerated well by most patients. Sedation is not typically given for CT or CTA exams because of this.
What happens after a CTA Examination?
When contrast media is used during Computed Tomography Angiograms, patient observation may continue for a short time after the exam. This observation is conducted to monitor potential side effects of contrast, such as rash, swelling, or itching. If these or other symptoms occur around the IV site after a patient has returned home, he or she should call his/her referring physician. Typically, the contrast media agents that are used today incur little, if any, reaction from patients.
The images obtained during a CTA are interpreted by a radiologist. A full report is sent to the referring physician within a few days of the scan.
GO Imaging offers friendly and expedient service to patients and referring physicians in the areas of Houston and Humble. Contact us for more information or to schedule an exam with us.