CT calcium scoring is a CT scan to check for deposits or build-up of plaque on the walls of your coronary arteries (arteries that supply blood to your heart).
Plaque is made up of calcium, fat and cholesterol. This test gives your consultant early warning of narrowing of the arteries and the risk of heart attack.
During this scan a series of x-rays are taken of your heart from slightly different angles and an advanced computer puts them all together, producing clear cross-sectional images. The detail in the images of a CT scan means that the radiologist can detect even tiny abnormalities. This accuracy helps in the early detection of disease, allowing effective treatment planning. Like an x-ray, there are no known side effects of a CT scan and it is normally a pain free procedure.
What happens during CT calcium scoring?
At your appointment you will meet your radiographer who is an expert in CT scanning. The radiographer will be with you throughout the whole process, from explaining the scan and answering your questions beforehand, to performing the actual scan.
Your appointment can take up to 40 minutes. For around half this time you will be lying down on the scanning bed, but the actual scan will take less than a minute. If you suffer from claustrophobia, you may find this uncomfortable. If this is the case, don’t worry – just contact us on the number on your appointment letter. There may be other options for you, depending on the area of the body to be scanned.
No special preparation is needed, but we do want you to feel as comfortable as possible during your scan and for the procedure to go smoothly. So there are some things to bear in mind before you come to us.
You can eat and drink as normal and continue to take any prescribed medicines. And, because we need to get images that are clear as possible, please wear clothing that has no metallic parts, such as buttons, zips and hooks. If you are wearing an under-wire bra, you may be asked to remove it.
When you arrive for your appointment we’ll check your name, date of birth and address. At this time you’ll be given the opportunity to ask any questions. Any metal objects, such as jewellery, keys, coins or metal dentures will be kept safely for you during the scan. If necessary, your radiographer may ask you to change into a gown for the scan. This will only be if an article of clothing could interfere with the scan.
Going home after CT calcium scoring
Once the radiographer has taken all the images you will be able to dress and go home. A radiologist and a cardiologist will review the results and submit a report to your referring doctor.
Not everyone needs CT calcium scoring. You should discuss your particular situation with your GP or cardiac specialist before scheduling a scan.
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