What is Neck CTA?
A neck CTA (computed tomography angiography) is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the cause of any unusual pain in the neck area, that is done in a non-invasive manner. This scan is also known as CT Angiogram of the Neck, Angiogram of the Head and Neck, or Carotid CTA.
The neck CTA helps doctors in examining the blood vessels in the neck, especially the carotid arteries. It also helps them in evaluating the blood vessels for abnormalities such as narrowing and blockage (carotid artery disease), ballooning of a weakened area in the blood vessels (aneurysms), and other birth defects (vascular malformations).
The neck CTA is done using 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.
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Who Should Get a Neck CTA?
Your doctor may recommend a CTA of the neck if you have one or more of the following ailments or symptoms:
- Unexplained pain in the neck
- Unbearable headache
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Difficulty pronouncing words
- Swallowing problems
- Syncope (fainting or a sudden temporary loss of consciousness)
- Aneurysm (a bulge in a blood vessel)
What is the Purpose of a Neck CTA?
Your doctor may recommend a neck CTA to:
- Evaluate unusual neck pain with uncommon symptoms.
- Look for damage to blood vessels after trauma to the neck.
- Identify if you are at low or medium risk for carotid artery stenosis (blockage of the neck blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the brain), which may increase your risk of stroke.
- Assess for suspected vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessel walls).
- Evaluate abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain (cerebral arteriovenous malformation).
- Look for abnormal enlargement or aneurysms of the aorta (the major blood vessel in the body).
- Assess your risk of a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
- Assess carotid arteries before planning a neck surgery (carotid artery surgery).
- Deduce the reason behind abnormal results of carotid ultrasound or MRA.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Neck Ultrasound (Soft Tissue) to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the neck. Your doctor may even recommend the Cholesterol Test (Lipid Panel) test to measure your cholesterol levels. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How is a Neck CTA Performed?
- Before starting the neck 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.
- An X-ray beam will move in a circle around your neck and will take multiple images 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 Neck CTA Take?
A neck CTA scan is usually completed between 45 to 60 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Neck 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 Neck CTA?
- The risk for radiation exposure is low in a single CT scan. However, radiation’s effect and the risk of developing cancer due to radiation increases with every CT scan a person gets.
- People who have implants containing metal, such as implanted screws or pacemakers, may not get accurate CT scan results.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the neck CTA is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Neck 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.