The heart is difficult to image because of its movement, but thanks to advances in CT technology, we are now able to take images of the heart with “frozen motion,” when the heart rate is reasonably low. This usually requires a pre-medication regimen prior to having this procedure.
Cardiac computed tomography (CT) refers to using CT to capture images of the heart and vessels connected to the heart. This may be performed with or without the use of intravenous contrast. Most applications require the use of contrast.
Cardiac CT evaluates the structure of the heart but it also can evaluate its function. Most heart diseases can be detected by a cardiac CT,, such as:
- Coronary artery disease, which is plaque in the coronary arteries. The CT can detect how it impacts the heart muscle.
- Atherosclerosis, which is the gradual clogging of the arteries by fatty materials and other substances in the blood stream. It develops over many years.
Cardiac CT is also used to guide procedures in cardiology, like ablation therapy for heart rhythm abnormalities or prior to heart valve replacement. Cardiac CT may be used to exclude a large blood clot in the cardiac chambers and prior to closure of the left atrial appendage.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. CAD develops when the arteries leading to the heart narrow or become blocked, which may lead to a reduction in blood flow to the heart, causing chest pain, heart attacks and death.
Despite being the most common form of heart disease, many of the non-invasive tests available today have low accuracy rates in detecting the disease. Cookeville Regional Medical Center is advancing the diagnosis of CAD with HeartFlow Analysis. This non-invasive heart test provides a personalized 3D model of your coronary arteries that shows how each blockage impacts blood flow to your heart. This detailed information, which was previously only available through an invasive procedure, helps your doctors determine the next step in your treatment plan. This is used in conjunction with a standard coronary CT scan to provide a more detailed view of the significance of your coronary artery blockage.