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Differences Between Cardiac CT Scan and Angiogram

ct scan and angiogram

CT Scan or (Computed Tomography) Scan, which the medical field also calls coronary CT angiography, or CT angiogram, is an imaging exam to view the heart and blood vessels. It is an exam that carries few risks and is less invasive than alternative procedures such as an angiogram.

Next, we will compare and differentiate an angiogram from a cardiac CT Scan; this last one is an advanced version of the traditional angiogram.

What Is An Angiogram?

An angiogram utilizes x-rays to produce images of the heart´s blood vessels. Doctors need it to check for restrictions in blood flow to the heart. An angiogram also diagnoses and treats conditions related to the heart and blood vessels.

An angiogram works by guiding a catheter into the artery near the wrist or groin so that doctors can inject the contrast dye and highlight the blood vessels within the target area. First, they must make an incision to insert the catheter; meanwhile, the patient is under local anesthesia.

As the contrast agent flows through the blood vessels, the specialist will take x-rays of the head and chest from various angles. This action is to diagnose or detect any problems affecting a patient´s blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis.

Ct scan

What Is A Ct Angiogram / Cardiac Ct Scan /coronary Ct Angiography?

A cardiac CT Scan is a less invasive version of the traditional angiogram. Using state-of-the-art CT scanners checks the arteries that supply blood to the heart, and specialists can use them to diagnose conditions such as coronary artery disease (CAD).

A CT angiogram can accurately highlight any narrowed or congested blood vessels by using detailed images of the heart and blood vessels.

Cardiac Ct Scan (Ct Angiography) Vs. Angiogram

Cardiac CT Scan (CT angiography) is a less invasive version of the traditional angiogram. The primary difference between the two procedures is that while a standard angiogram involves inserting a catheter into the artery and area to be studied, a CT angiogram does not require catheter insertion.

A significant advantage of a CT angiogram over a traditional angiogram is that a CT angiogram is non-invasive. However, for abnormal CT angiography findings, such as blockage or narrowing of one or more blood vessels, the patient may need a standard angiography as a follow-up.

The situation above-mentioned is typical when doctors consider surgery to treat the narrowing or obstruction. Therefore, in some cases, a traditional angiogram may be more beneficial than a Cardiac CT Scan, as the physician can perform angioplasty immediately.

How Accurate Is A Cardiac Ct Scan Compared To A Traditional Angiogram?

Several studies have evaluated the accuracy of a CT angiogram compared to the invasive coronary angiogram.

A study of coronary CT scan versus invasive coronary angiography in coronary heart disease (CHD) analyzed data from forty-four diagnostic studies. This study used invasive coronary angiography as the reference standard, and two diagnostic studies used intracoronary pressure measurement as the reference standard.

The studies showed that, compared with invasive coronary angiography, coronary CT angiography had a sensitivity of eighty versus sixty-seven percent and a specificity of sixty-seven versus seventy-five percent.

Specialists recommend a coronary CT scan as the method of choice to rule out obstructive coronary stenosis (OCS) to avoid patients having to undergo an invasive angiogram. However, doctors only recommend this method for patients with a pretest probability of coronary heart disease of fifty percent or less.

Another study on the accuracy of CT angiography looked at two hundred and one patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) symptoms. Doctors examined them with a sixty-four-slice CT scanner.

Studies found that CT angiography accurately identified eighty-five percent of patients with significant stenosis and ninety percent with CAD.

The authors concluded that, although CT angiography was not ready to replace conventional angiograms completely, the newer procedure with the Cardiac CT scan was almost as accurate as the traditional angiogram.

Cardiac CT scans have a high accuracy in detecting CHD in patients compared to a traditional angiogram. However, the diagnostic accuracy decreases in diagnosing coronary stents due to severe coronary artery calcification because of its subordinate spatial resolution compared to invasive angiograms.

However, in a recent discovery, researchers found an ultra-high-resolution CT scanner that may be able to surpass the limitation of standard CTA in the setting of severe stenting or coronary artery calcification, thus outperforming its invasive counterpart.

The equipment of the ultra-high resolution CT (UHR-CT) scanner includes detector rows, half the width of those currently on the market, which will result in twice the spatial resolution.

Check your Glucose Level

  • If you ignore the fact that you may have diabetes, you should check your glucose (fasting blood sugar) level to ensure there is no untreated underlying problem.

    It may be possible to have a glucose level that is not high enough to be diabetic but not low enough to be expected. This situation is known as glucose intolerance. In this case, it is wise to control the sugar level in your diet and have your blood checked regularly to ensure your blood glucose level does not rise.

    If you have diabetes, this increases your chances of having a high blood glucose level regularly, and this accelerates the process of atherosclerosis. Individuals with diabetes also tend to develop atherosclerosis in a different pattern than those who do not have diabetes, which can make treatment more difficult when the disease becomes severe.

    Therefore, it is imperative for people with diabetes to have reasonable control of their blood sugar levels and to take special care of their bodies.

Risks Of An Angiogram

As with any procedure involving x-rays, an angiogram exposes you to radiation. Complications from an angiogram are rare; nevertheless, potential risks include:

  • Injury to the catheterized artery.
  • An allergic reaction to the medication or contrast agent.
  • Arrhythmias
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack.

Risks Of Cardiac Ct Scan

Like an angiogram, the x-rays involved in a Cardiac CT Scan will expose you to radiation. However, the level of exposure will depend on the type of machine the specialists use.

Unfortunately, there may be a slight risk of developing cancer from repetitive exposure, but the benefits of getting an accurate diagnosis usually outweigh the risks.

According to experts, the amount of radiation used during CT angiography is minimal, so the risk for radiation exposure is low. Fortunately, no radiation remains in your body after a Cardiac CT scan.

Another risk associated with radiation exposure is the possibility of damaging living tissue, although this risk is negligible. Other possible complications of CT angiography, which are rare, include an allergic reaction to the contrast agent, which could cause symptoms such as:

050418_msk-01047 CT
  • Redness
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Redness
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing

Always inform your radiologist if you have a history of allergies or an allergy to contrast material. Reactions to contrast are rare. However, if you have an account of allergic reactions, your doctor may give you medications to decrease the risk of an allergic reaction before the exam.

Another risk, tissue damage, happens if a large amount of contrast material leaks around the IV site because it can irritate the skin, blood vessels, and nerves under the skin. It is important to tell your radiologists or radiology technologists if you have any pain when they inject the contrast material intravenously.

The contrast material can damage your kidneys, so you may not be able to have this exam if you have severe kidney disease or diabetes.

If you are breastfeeding, you should wait twenty-four hours after this exam before breastfeeding your baby.

Assuming you are pregnant or think you may be, you should inform your physician or radiology technologist. A Cardiac CT scan will not be suitable for you if you are pregnant, as there is a possibility that you may harm your unborn baby.

Both a Cardiac CT Scan and a traditional angiogram are effective imaging exams for diagnosing conditions related to the heart and blood vessels. However, many will prefer the non-invasive option of a Cardiac CT Scan, which is quick, convenient, and relatively painless.

A Cardiac CT scan is very accurate in detecting CHD in patients and almost as precise as a traditional angiogram, allowing physicians to make decisions such as ruling out CAD in patients with a low to medium risk of disease.

These days, Cardiac CT scans are the preferred method for patients with a pretest probability of CHD of fifty percent or less. 

Additionally, with the recent introduction of ultra-high resolution CT scanners, it could only be a matter of time before conventional invasive angiograms slowly filter out.

Subsequently, CT scanners will probably replace the conventional invasive angiograms completely; due to their accuracy, convenience, and development in spatial resolution.

Between Cardiac Ct Scan And Angiogram, Which Is Best For Me?

There is debate about when to use a Cardiac CT Scan versus an angiogram and which types of patients.

Some recent studies show that the diagnostic capabilities of the two exams are equivalent. Still, because of lower costs and improved safety, people believe that Cardiac CT Scan is a better gatekeeper and a first-line exam for triaging patients and determining the need for medical therapy or invasive evaluation.

In addition, current CT Scanners have lower radiation doses and more accuracy than old machinery. As a result, patients often prefer Cardiac CT Scan for coronary artery disease testing because it is less invasive.

We are Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, a diagnostic and preventative medicine cardiology practice. For more information, contact us.

After the affected veins have responded to the treatment, they usually do not return or reappear, but new varicose or spider veins may develop.

Your physician will likely schedule a follow-up visit about a month after the treatment to determine how well it worked and if you need more sessions. After that, you should wait about six weeks before having another sclerotherapy treatment.

Before making a decision, you should discuss the benefits and risks of sclerotherapy with your physician and possible coverage with an insurer.



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Modern Heart and Vascular, a preventive cardiology medical practice, has several offices around Houston. We have locations in Humble, Cleveland, The Woodlands, Katy, and Livingston.

We are Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, a diagnostic and preventative medicine cardiology practice.

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At the Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, we offer state-of-the-art cardiovascular care with innovative diagnostic tools and compassionate patient care. Our priority at Modern Heart and Vascular Institute is prevention. We help patients lead healthier lives by avoiding unnecessary procedures and surgeries.

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This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.

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