An ultrafast CT scan is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to look at your heart. The scan takes pictures very quickly. It gives your healthcare provider many details about your heart that other imaging tests can’t.
Standard X-rays use a small amount of radiation to create images of your bones and internal organs. Standard X-rays are useful to help diagnose illness. But many details about internal organs and other structures can’t be seen.
In CT scan, the X-rays move around your body. This gives many views or slices of the same organ or structure in much greater detail. The X-ray information is sent to a computer. The computer makes a 2-D image that your healthcare provider can look at. IV contrast may also be used to make the coronary arteries show up better in the scan.
An ultrafast CT scan shows your healthcare provider even more details about your heart’s structure and how well your heart is working. It also can be done in much less time than a regular CT scan.
Ultrafast CT scans can see early signs of coronary artery disease. These signs are very small amounts of calcium and blockages in the coronary arteries. This calcium may predict that one or more coronary arteries will eventually become blocked. A blocked artery can cause chest pain, or even a heart attack.
Ultrafast CT scan is mainly used to diagnose coronary artery disease in people who are risk but have no symptoms of the disease.
You may need an ultrafast CT scan if your healthcare provider needs to check the following:
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend an ultrafast CT scan.
You may want to ask your healthcare provider about the amount of radiation used during the test. Also ask about the risks as they apply to you.
Consider writing down all X-rays you get, including past scans and X-rays for other health reasons. Show this list to your healthcare provider. The risks of radiation exposure may be tied to the number of X-rays you have and the X-ray treatments you have over time.
Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or think that you might be pregnant. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects.
You may have other risks depending on your specific health condition. Tell your healthcare provider about all your medical problems, including allergies, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Make a list of questions you have about the procedure. Discuss these questions and any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure. Consider bringing a family member or trusted friend to the medical appointment to help you remember your questions and concerns.
You may have an ultrafast CT scan as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. The way the test is done may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider's practices.
Generally, an ultrafast CT scan follows this process:
You may go back to your usual activities as directed by your healthcare provider. You may be given other instructions, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know: