What is a CT Coronary Angiography (CTCA)?

Radiologist and a patient

A CT coronary angiogram, or CTCA, is a scan using dye to highlight any blockages in your coronary arteries, including those caused by a build-up of soft plaque which may not show up in other tests. It is a quick and painless scan used to evaluate the condition of your coronary arteries. A CTCA includes all the information of a CAC score but also identifies the degree of narrowing of the arteries caused by calcified or non-calcified plaque which are the known cause of heart attacks. Your doctor may recommend a CTCA to assist with early detection of heart disease, especially if you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, breathlessness, excessive sweating, irregular heartbeat, or dizziness.

What should I expect?


What to Expect

  • The test takes approximately 45 minutes to complete
  • Before your CT scan, your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored and a cannula will be inserted into a vein in your arm for the delivery of the “contrast dye”
  • Next you will be asked to undress to the waist (a gown is provided for you to wear) and lie on a bed that slides under the scanning machine
  • To capture the best images possible, you may need to take medication to slow and stabilise your heart rate. This medication may be tablets prescribed by your doctor and taken before your appointment or an intravenous medication administered during your appointment
  • Immediately prior to the scan there will be a spray of nitrate under your tongue which helps dilate the coronary blood vessels
  • The contrast dye will be injected into your vein via the cannula to highlight any blockages on your scan images. This injection can cause a hot flush through the body or a metallic taste in the mouth but only lasts a few seconds

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I prepare?

  1. Do not take any stimulants such as tea, coffee, soft drinks or energy drinks for 12 hours before your test
  2. Do not eat anything in the 2 hours before your scan
  3. Drink plenty of water to ensure you stay hydrated
  4. Do not wear lotions, perfumes or powders around the chest area, and remove any jewellery around your neck or chest
  5. Wear an outfit on the day to enable you to easily change into a gown from the waist up, such as a shirt or blouse
  6. You should consult your doctor prior to the test as they can advise if you should cease any of your regular medications during the test that may interfere with the results.

What happens after the test?

After the test you will be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes and the cannula removed before you can go home. The results will be reviewed by a specialist cardiologist and a full report will be sent to your referring doctor who will be able to advise you if a follow-up course of action is required.

This test is available at the following locations:

This information is of a general nature. If you are concerned about your heart health, discuss this with your local doctor.