Computed tomography angiography (CTA) is an imaging test. It uses X-rays and computer technology to make detailed pictures of your arteries. Before the test, an X-ray dye (contrast medium) is shot or injected into your vein. The dye makes it easier to see your blood vessels on the X-ray. Pictures are then taken with the CT scanner. A computer turns the CT images into 2- and 3-dimensional pictures.
CTA may be used to:
Check arteries in your belly, neck, lungs, pelvis, kidneys, or brain.
Look for a ballooning of the blood vessel wall (aneurysm) or a tear (dissection).
Check if a tube (stent) used to keep an artery open is working well.
Find damage to your arteries due to injuries.
Collect details on blood vessels that supply blood to tumors.
Tell your health care provider if you:
Have kidney disease
Are allergic to X-ray dye or other medicines
Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
Are taking any medicines, herbs, or supplements. This includes over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
You may be told not to eat or drink anything for a few hours before the CTA. Follow any other instructions from your provider.
You will be asked to remove any hair clips, jewelry, false teeth, or other metal items that could show up on the X-ray.
You will lie down on the scanning table. An IV (intravenous) line will be put in a vein in your arm or hand.
The scanning table will be properly placed. The part of your body being checked will be inside the doughnut-shaped CT scanner.
One image may be taken first to be sure you are in the proper position for the test.
The IV will be hooked up to an automatic injection machine. This controls how often and how fast the X-ray dye is injected. The injection may continue during part of the exam.
The dye will be put into your vein through the IV line. You may feel warmth through your body when the dye is injected.
You can’t move while the X-rays are being taken. Pillows and foam pads may be used to help you stay still. You will be told to hold your breath for 10 to 25 seconds at a time.
The whole procedure may take 10 to 25 minutes.
Drink plenty of fluids to help flush the X-ray dye from your body.
You may eat as soon as you want to.
All procedures have some risks. A CTA has some possible minor risks. These include:
Problems due to the X-ray dye, such as an allergic reaction or kidney damage
Skin damage from leaking X-ray dye near where the IV was put in