CT angiography - chest

What is a CT Angiography Chest Scan?

A CT angiography chest scan is an imaging method used to diagnose various heart and lung conditions. Combining computed tomography (CT) scans with a specialized dye procedure, a radiologist can quickly view a detailed image of the blood vessels in the chest. Thus, doctors can diagnose diseases and conditions, such as coronary artery disease, lung cancer, pulmonary embolism, and other issues.

Why is a CT Angiography Chest Scan Done?

A CT angiography chest scan is ordered by a doctor when a patient displays symptoms of a circulatory system disorder or a related heart or lung condition. This scan helps visualize the blood vessels to diagnose, evaluate, and monitor various conditions. Generally, a doctor may order this kind of imaging if they suspect a patient may suffer from:

  • Atherosclerotic disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Abnormalities in the walls of the aorta
  • Abnormal or damaged valves
  • Pericardial disease
  • Heart attack
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Aneurysms
  • Arterial blockages
  • Chest masses
  • Lung cancer
  • Interstitial lung disease

Preparation for CT Angiography Chest Scan

Patients are typically asked to fast for a few hours before the CT angiography chest scan to receive the best results. In addition, patients are required to inform the radiologist of any medical condition they have and any medications they are taking since these will be taken into account when creating the CT dye used for the scan.

Procedure for CT Angiography Chest Scan

Before the scan starts, the radiologist will explain the procedure to the patient and the patient will be asked to sign a consent form. Patients may be given a sedative to help them relax as the scan is taking place. The patient will then be asked to enter the CT scanning machine and lie on the table as the dye is injected. The scan will take 20 to 30 minutes to complete, the dye will help highlight any abnormalities in the blood vessels for the radiologist to view.

Types of CT Angiography Chest Scan

There are two types of CT angiography chest scan procedures:

  • CT coronary angiography—this procedure allows a doctor to examine the coronary arteries to diagnose heart disease or other cardiac conditions.
  • CT pulmonary angiography—this procedure is used to assess pulmonary embolism, a condition that occurs when a blood clot has lodged in one of the pulmonary arteries or its branches.

Risks of CT Angiography Chest Scan

CT angiography chest scans pose minimal risks to patients. The primary risk associated with the procedure is that it requires the injection of dye into the veins. This dye may cause an allergic reaction or inflammation in some instances. In very rare cases, the injected dye may cause kidney damage. Additionally, the radiological scan may deliver low doses of radiation.


CT angiography chest scans are a safe, reliable imaging method that helps doctors diagnose a variety of conditions related to the heart and lungs. Though the test does expose a patient to radiation, the potential risks of the procedure are minimal, and far outweighed by the benefit of diagnosing potentially serious conditions earlier. Patients should always discuss the procedure with their doctor prior to the scan to ensure the best results.