Computed tomography angiogram (CTA) is a more precise method of evaluating blood vessels than a standard CT scan. CTA uses a combination of CT scanning, special computer techniques, and contrast material (dye) injected into the blood to produce images of blood vessels. Details of vascular anatomy can be rendered in three dimensions and the adjacent bony structures can be visualized as well.
CTA is commonly used to:
- Look for blockage or narrowing of the arteries in the neck that carry blood to the brain. Blood flow to the brain that is slowed or stopped increases the chance of having a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Study symptoms that might mean problems with the blood flow to the brain. Symptoms may include severe headaches, memory loss, slurred speech, dizziness, blurred or double vision, weakness or numbness, or loss of coordination or balance.
- Detect an aneurysm in the brain or in a blood vessel leading to the brain. Check the pattern of blood flow to a tumor. This can show if the tumor has spread and can help guide treatment.
- Examine the pulmonary arteries in the lungs to rule out pulmonary embolism, a serious but treatable condition.
- Visualize blood flow in the renal arteries (those supplying the kidneys) in patients with high blood pressure and those suspected of having kidney disorders. Narrowing (stenosis) of a renal artery is a cause of high blood pressure (hypertension) in some patients and can be corrected. CTA is also is assessing the renal arteries in prospective kidney donors.
- Identify aneurysms in the aorta or in other major blood vessels. Aneurysms are diseased areas of a weakened blood vessel wall that bulges out—like a bulge in a tire. Aneurysms are life-threatening because they can rupture.
- Identify dissection in the aorta or its major branches. Dissection means that the layers of the artery wall peel away from each other—like the layers of an onion. Dissection can cause pain and can be life-threatening.
- Detect atherosclerotic disease that has narrowed the arteries to the legs.
Watch a video of a 3D CTA abdomen.
Your physician will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your CT Scan. Please inform your physician of any medications you are taking as well as any allergies you may have, especially an allergy to iodine. Also inform your physician regarding a recent illness or other medical conditions.
Women should inform their physician if they are pregnant, or if there is any possibility they may be pregnant.
Radiation Dose: Special care is taken during X-Ray examinations to use of the lowest radiation dose possible while producing the best images for evaluation.