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Computed Tomography Angiogram (CT Angiogram)

What Affects the Test

You may not be able to have a CT angiogram if:

  • You are pregnant. A CT angiogram isn't usually done when a woman is pregnant, because there is a chance that the baby might be harmed by the radiation.
  • You have had an X-ray test that used barium contrast material (such as a barium enema) in the past 4 days. Barium shows up on a CT angiogram and makes it hard to see the picture clearly. A CT angiogram should be done before any tests that use barium.
  • You are allergic to the dye (contrast material) that is used during the test.
  • You have kidney problems. The dye used during the test can cause kidney damage in people whose kidneys don't work well.
  • You take metformin (such as Glucophage) to control your diabetes. The dye used during the test may cause problems if you take this medicine.
  • You are obese. A person who is very overweight may not fit into a standard CT machine, or the X-ray table may not be able to support his or her weight.
  • You can't lie still during the test.
  • You have metal objects in your body, such as surgical clips or metal in joint replacements. These objects may prevent a clear view of the areas being examined.

What To Think About

Benefits and limitations

A CT angiogram is a less invasive test than a standard angiogram. A standard angiogram involves threading a thin tube called a catheter through an artery in your arm or leg up to the area being studied. But with a CT angiogram, no tubes are put in your body. To learn more, see the topic Angiogram.

If your doctor sees that one or more of your blood vessels are blocked, you may need a standard angiogram anyway to double-check the abnormal results from the CT angiogram. This is more likely to happen if your doctor is considering surgery to treat the blockage.

If your doctor finds a major blockage in one of your blood vessels during a CT angiogram, you won't be able to get an immediate angioplasty to clear the blockage. You will need a separate procedure. But if you have a standard angiogram and the doctor finds a major blockage, he or she can perform an angioplasty during the angiogram.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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