What is Chest CTA?
Chest CTA (computed tomography angiography) is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the cause of unusual chest pain in a non-invasive manner. This scan is also known as CT Angiogram of the Lungs and Lungs CTA.
In this scan, multiple images of the blood vessels within the chest and upper abdomen area are generated using X-rays and a contrast material (dye) that is injected into the veins. The contrast material highlights blockages in the blood vessels, which are then seen more clearly in the scanned images.
The chest CTA helps doctors in detecting disorders of the organs within the chest such as the heart and lungs. It also helps in excluding the narrowing of the blood vessels (coronary artery disease) as the cause of chest discomfort and detect other possible causes of symptoms.
The lungs CTA also helps doctors in evaluating blood clots in the lungs, blood vessel diseases, or related conditions such as aneurysms (ballooning of a weakened area in the blood vessels).
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Who Should Get a Chest CTA?
Your doctor may recommend a CTA of the chest if you have one or more of the following ailments or symptoms:
- Unexplained chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- High cholesterol
- Family history of lungs or heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Obesity and physical inactivity
What Is the Purpose of a Chest CTA?
Your doctor may recommend a chest CTA to:
- Evaluate unusual chest pain with uncommon symptoms.
- Look for damage to blood vessels after trauma or injury to the chest.
- Evaluate blood clots in the lungs.
- Look for abnormal enlargement or aneurysms of the aorta (the major blood vessel in the body), if you have heart disease by birth.
- Check for suspected blockage of the large vein that moves blood from the top of the body to the heart.
- Evaluate the narrowing of the main blood vessel(aorta)leading out of the heart.
- Look for a tear in the wall of blood vessels (dissection).
- Check for inflammation of the blood vessel walls (vasculitis).
- Assess blood vessels before planning surgery of the lungs.
- Find a possible place in the chest to insert a catheter for hemodialysis (a treatment to filter water and wastes from blood).
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Chest Ultrasound or Chest MRI to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the lungs. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How Is the Chest CTA Performed?
- Before starting the chest CTA, you will have to remove all the metal objects on your body including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
- A technologist will ask you to lie still on the CT scanner table and will inject contrast material into your vein.
- The CT scanner table will then move slowly through a doughnut-shaped machine.
- The CT scanner will move in a circle around your body and an X-ray beam will pass through your chest for small amounts of time.
- The technologist will then take multiple images of your chest that will be displayed on a monitor.
- During the scan, the technologist will give you instructions such as ‘stay still’ and ‘hold your breath for 5 to 8 seconds’. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
How Long Does a Chest CTA Take?
A chest CTA scan is usually completed between 15 to 30 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Chest CTA?
Yes. A CT Angiography scan is an imaging test that involves a small amount of radiation to show images of the organs, tissues, and bones of the body.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Chest CTA?
- The risk for radiation exposure is low in a single CT scan. However, the effects of radiation and the risk of developing cancer due to radiation will increase with every X-ray a person gets.
- Developing babies are sensitive to radiation and are at more risk, so women should inform their doctors and the X-ray technicians if they are pregnant.
- People who have implants containing metal, such as implanted screws or pacemakers, may not get accurate CT scan results.
- Some people might also have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in a CTA.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the chest CTA is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Chest CTA?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.