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CT Scan
What It Is : A Computerised Tomography (CT) scan is a much more detailed X-ray and provides a two-dimensional image of the body part being scanned. This is achieved as many X-ray beams (as opposed to a single beam in an X-ray) are sent through the body simultaneously from different angles.

Thanks to technology, the information from the 2D computer images can be reconstructed to produce 3D images by some modern CT scanners. These can be used to produce virtual images that show what a surgeon would see during an operation.

CT scans have already allowed doctors to inspect the inside of the body without having to operate or perform invasive examinations. CT scanning has also proved invaluable in pinpointing tumours and planning treatment with radiotherapy.

Faster CT machines, due to multi-detector capabilities, have made imaging of the heart and circulatory system very practical in a number of clinical settings. The test is highly sensitive (over 90% detection rate), so a negative test result largely rules out coronary artery disease (i.e. the test has a high negative predictive value)

  Cardiac computed tomography (CT) uses special x-ray equipment to produce pictures of the coronary arteries to determine if they are blocked or narrowed by the buildup of plaque – an indicator for atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease (CAD). The information obtained can help evaluate whether you are at increased risk for heart attack.

  It also includes Calcium scoring to evaluate if coronary artery disease is present or not, and to what extent, even if there are no symptoms. It is a screening study that may be recommended by a physician for patients with risk factors for CAD but no clinical symptoms.

The major risk factors for CAD are:
  • high blood cholesterol levels
  • family history of heart attacks
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • cigarette smoking
  • overweight or obese
  • physical inactivity
The machine at Holy Family Hospital is a 128 Slice Scanner with the scan done within 5 seconds at a heart rate below 85 beats per second.

Benefits
  • Cardiac CT for calcium scoring is a convenient and non-invasive way of evaluating whether you may be at increased risk for a heart attack.
  • The exam takes little time, causes no pain, and does not require injection of contrast material.
  • No radiation remains in a patient's body after a CT examination.
  • X-rays used in CT scans have no immediate side effects.
How To Prepare : If the patient is receiving an abdomen scan, for instance, they will be asked not to eat for six hours before the test. They will be given a drink containing gastrografin, an aniseed-flavoured X-ray dye, 45 minutes before the procedure. This makes the intestines easier to see on the images. Sometimes a liquid X-ray dye is injected into the veins during the test. This also makes it easier to see the organs, blood vessels or, for example, a tumour.

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