Computerized Tomography (CT) is a painless, low-risk method for obtaining highly sophisticated X-ray images. A computer converts the images into three-dimensional, color cross sections, or “slices,” that show specific areas of the body in fine detail. In some cases, an iodine-based contrast dye is used to increase visibility of organs and structures.
Cardiac CT is the best non-invasive test for coronary visualization. It is used to evaluate the heart muscle, the coronary and pulmonary veins, the thoracic aorta, and the pericardium, or sac, around the heart.
State of the art technology
Our care partner, Advanced Medical Imaging (AMI), offers the most advanced CT scanner on the Kitsap Peninsula. This scanner—installed at the Harlow Medical Building at Harrison Silverdale and accredited by the American College of Radiology—can acquire 64 slices, or images, in less than half a second. Its advanced speed and specialized software make it possible to offer definitive, non-invasive cardiac exams that simply weren’t possible with earlier technology.
All of AMI’s radiologists are board certified in their specialty—and all of AMI’s radiologic technologists are state-licensed and certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
Clinical uses and advantages
What to expect
- Quick and non-invasive, and may eliminate the need for traditional, invasive cardiac catheterization.
- 95 to 100 percent accurate in ruling out coronary artery disease in low- to medium-risk patients.
- Can assess the extent of arterial narrowing and the type and degree of arterial plaque.
- Identifies anatomical abnormalities such as thrombus (blood clot in the heart or blood vessel).
- Using advanced visualization algorithms, can remove specific body structures from the image for more accurate pre-surgical planning.
- Helps evaluate causes of chest pain.
- Can determine—in many cases—whether stents and bypass grafts are open.
- Assesses cardiac function, including wall motion and valve function.
- Drink plenty of water 24 to 48 hours before your scan, then discontinue all liquids in the final four hours before the scan.
- At the start of the exam, you will lie on a mobile bed outside the donut-shaped scanner. If needed, staff will administer a contrast dye through an intravenous line in your arm. You may feel flushed or warm as the dye is injected.
- For optimum image quality, your heart rate should be less than 60 beats per minute during the exam. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe a beta-blocker to slow your heart rate temporarily.
- The bed will slide into the scanner, which is quiet and relatively open.
- During the procedure, you will lie on the scanning table with your arms raised overhead. You will need to lie very still, and the technician may ask you to hold your breath for 10 to 25 seconds at a time to prevent image blur.
- The scan usually takes half an hour, including preparation time. If medication is required, the visit may last up to 90 minutes.
- Afterward, you will be monitored briefly before being discharged. You can resume normal activities but should drink plenty of fluids.