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Computed tomography, or CT, uses a special machine to obtain multiple x-ray images of the body. Multislice or helical CT obtains multiple simultaneous images from many angles; computer processing creates cross-sections of the area of interest. Cardiac CT is a non-invasive way of obtaining information about the location and extent of calcified plaque in the coronary vessels. A calcium score is generated.

Major risk factors for coronary artery disease are:

-High blood cholesterol
-Family history of heart disease
-Diabetes mellitus
-High blood pressure

Scoring is as follows:

0 - No evidence of plaque
1-10 - Minimal plaque.
11-100 - Mild plaque
101-400 - Moderate plaque
>400 - Extensive plaque

The risks of the procedure are primarily that of a limited amount of radiation. The dose is similar to about 10 chest x-rays. Insurance frequently does not reimburse this procedure. Finally, this test does not detect soft plaque, a precursor to hard or calcified plaque, and thus does not exclude the presence of coronary artery disease with 100% confidence.


Your doctor should give you instructions about how to prepare for your CT angiogram. Usually, you´ll be asked not to eat anything for about four hours before your test.

- Patients cannot have anything to eat or drink at least 4 hours prior

- No caffeine or nicotine for 12 hours prior

- No blood pressure medication the day of the exam

- You can drive yourself to the appointment, and you´ll be able to drive home or to work after your test.


Please notify the technologist if you are pregnant.

Your cardiac CT calcium scoring exam:

-Prior to your exam, you will be asked to sign an informed consent form.
-The technologist begins by positioning the you on the CT table. As the study proceeds, the table will move slowly into the CT scanner. The CT portion of the scan is performed during breath-holding.
-The exam will take less than five minutes to complete.
-After the exam a report will be faxed to your physician, generally within 24 hours.