What is a CT scan?
A CT scan is a scan performed using X-rays, the same X-rays used for a ‘normal’ X-ray. The difference is that the CT scanner rotates around you. This makes it possible to view the heart and its blood vessels from various angles. In particular, a CT scan of the heart is used to look at atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or narrowing of the coronary arteries.
First, the centre assistant will check your blood pressure and heart rate. If necessary, you will be given medication to temporarily lower your heart rate.
To make the heart and blood vessels more visible, we will administer an intravenous (IV) contrast agent during the CT scan. The contrast agent may make you feel warm, or give you a metallic taste in your mouth. These harmless side effects disappear after a few minutes. The contrast agent will pass out of your body in your urine in the course of the day.
Once you have positioned yourself on the CT scanner, it is important that you lie still and hold your breath when asked to do so. This prevents movement on the images. The radiographer will make an overview image first. Then, the scan with the contrast agent will be made. Just before this scan, a spray will be administered under your tongue to also make the coronary arteries more visible.
Duration of the examination
The CT scan takes about 30 minutes including preparation; the scan itself takes about 5 minutes. If we give you additional medication to slow your heart rate, we will ask you to wait in our waiting room for 60 minutes until the medication has taken effect.