Heart CT Scan

Henry Ford offers the most advanced heart CT scan techniques available to create a 3-D picture of your heart.

Cardiovascular conditions are complex, and an accurate diagnosis is key. One important tool that may help to diagnose certain conditions is a heart CT scan. If you have been referred for this scan, you likely have many questions.

The Henry Ford difference

  • Expertise: Our specialists have expert knowledge and skills in all facets of heart CT testing.
  • Comprehensive testing: We offer the complete gamut of heart CT testing options.
  • Latest technology: We offer the latest testing heart CT procedures available. This includes the rare capability of measuring blood flow, which gives a more accurate picture of the overall blockage and helps determine the most effective treatment. In addition, we offer the latest technology for measuring the severity of coronary artery stenosis (or narrowing of the arteries) and the effect on the heart muscle. This diagnostic technology, known as CTFFR (fractional flow reserve) is offered at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.
  • A focus on safety: We are committed to performing examinations with the lowest possible radiation exposure. Henry Ford’s standard imaging protocols are on par with national safety guidelines.
  • Range of treatments: An accurate diagnosis is only the first step. We also offer the full spectrum of advanced treatment options for all heart and vascular conditions, including rare diseases.

What is a heart CT?

  • A heart computed tomography (CT) scan is a noninvasive test that uses X-rays to create several detailed images of your heart and its blood vessels.
  • These individual images, or “slices” are combined by a computer into a 3-D picture of your heart.
  • This test is used to help detect and estimate the significance of blockages.
  • CT images provide far greater detail than traditional X-rays, especially for soft tissues such as the heart and blood vessels.
  • Before the procedure, you will be given an IV injection of a radioactive dye as well as medication to slow your heart rate, both of which help to produce clearer images.

Why do I need one?

Your cardiology team may order a heart CT scan for several reasons:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD): The most common type of heart disease, this refers to a narrowed or blocked heart artery. This blockage is often related to a process known as atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque, a waxy substance made up of cholesterol and other materials, including calcium. When a heart CT is used to help detect CAD, it may be referred to as a coronary calcium scan. This test can help determine if CAD is present and if you are at an increased risk for a heart attack. Given that a heart CT may help detect early atherosclerosis, if you have certain risk factors your physician may order a scan even if you have no symptoms.
  • Congenital heart disease: Congenital heart disease means that you were born with one or more defects in the structure of your heart or related blood vessels. This can change blood flow through the heart and lead to complications, some of which may be life-threatening.
  • Heart valve issues: The heart has several valves that control the flow of blood between the chambers of your heart. When one of these valves becomes diseased, either through a birth defect or over the course of a lifetime, it can cause serious health issues.
  • Heart tumors: This rare form of tumor can grow either inside the heart or on its surface. Tumors may be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
  • Pre-surgery clearance: Certain surgical procedures, and the anesthesia used during them, can affect heart rate and pumping ability. If you have a history of heart disease or symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, your doctor might order a heart CT prior to surgery.
  • Heart surgery follow-up: If you have had coronary artery bypass surgery, your physician may order this test to monitor the results of the procedure.

Given the variety of heart imaging tests that are available, and the fact that there can be more than one test available for some conditions, you may be confused on what you need. In addition, your physician may order a different test to help clarify the results of a previous one.

As part of your personalized treatment plan, your Henry Ford cardiology team will explain why they are recommending the specific test or tests for your condition, explain how each one works and answer any of your questions.

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