What is A CT Angiography?


A computed tomography (CT) scan is a series of x-rays taken from a variety of angles combined to recreate a three-dimensional image of the body. They capture both hard and soft tissue structures in a matter of minutes, making them an excellent resource for evaluating trauma injuries. However, they’re also helpful in diagnostic settings, with processes such as CT angiography allowing physicians to identify a broad range of issues.

CT angiography is a type of CT scanning that uses a contrast material or dye to produce brighter, clearer images of tissues and blood vessels. When you arrive at your CT appointment, a technologist will get you situated on an exam table and give you an IV, usually in your arm or hand. They’ll use the IV to administer the contrast material.

At this point, your body may feel warm, or you could get a metallic taste in your mouth — these are typical side effects of the injection and usually pass quickly. You’ll be directed to lie still on the exam table as the CT scanner moves around you. The machine may flash lights or make buzzing noises during the process. Most CT angiographies take only minutes to complete.

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Why undergo CT angiography?

If your doctor believes you may need CT angiography or detects a compelling reason to perform one using another imaging device, there may be an abnormality in areas such as your blood vessels, brain or heart. The scan can help a clinician see exactly where the issue is and determine a course of treatment. Promptly assessing an image from a CT angiogram can prevent conditions like heart attacks and strokes.

CT angiograms are most helpful for:

  • Finding an aneurysm, or an enlarged blood vessel. Aneurysms weaken the blood vessel walls and put them at risk of rupturing.
  • Identifying atherosclerosis in blood vessels. Atherosclerosis refers to a fatty material that builds up in arteries, which can cause blockages.
  • Discovering blood clots that may have traveled from your legs.
  • Exploring tumors attached to and fed by blood vessels.
  • Planning how to approach certain cancer treatments.
  • Preparing for surgeries, such as a transplant.

What are the benefits?

CT angiography quickly provides detailed images you and your healthcare provider can use to start discussing your options and make informed decisions about your treatment moving forward. Clinicians often suggest CT scans due to their array of benefits:

  • It’s a painless, noninvasive procedure that can eliminate the need for exploratory surgery.
  • Unlike other types of imaging, radiation does not stay in your body after the angiogram is complete, and the x-rays do not cause immediate side effects.
  • CT angiography provides a fast, precise picture of what’s happening without sedation or anesthesia, reducing the risk of complications.