A coronary calcification scan is a type of X-ray that lets us look at cross sections of the heart. Images taken during the scan show the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries.
Calcium in the arteries can be a sign of coronary heart disease. This scan can help your doctor to decide if you need further treatment.
About your coronary calcification scan
A radiographer will help to position you on a bed which will move through the scanner. You will be connected to an ECG (electrocardiogram) machine. This measures the electrical activity of the heart and means that each scan can be taken at the same stage of the cardiac cycle.
Throughout the scan, you will be in voice contact with the radiographer through a microphone. The scan is taken very quickly and you will be asked to hold your breath whilst it is taken.
You will lie on the scanner for approximately ten to fifteen minutes. The actual scan, while you hold your breath, lasts about fifteen seconds.
What are the benefits of the coronary calcification scan?
The results of the scan will help your doctor to make a diagnosis and this information can be used to make decisions about any further treatment you need.
Are there any alternatives to a coronary calcification scan?
No other test is available that can give reliable information about the level of calcium in the coronary arteries.
What happens if I don’t have the scan?
If you do not have this scan your doctor may not have all the necessary information to make a diagnosis. This may affect what treatment you are given.
If you are pregnant or think that you may be pregnant, please let us know before you have your scan.
If you are diabetic please continue with your normal routine. If you will need food during the time you are with us, please bring a snack with you. If you are on insulin please bring this also.
Please continue to take any medicines as normal.
Is there any risk from the radiation?
The amount of radiation used in this scan is kept to a minimum. We strongly believe that the benefits of the scan far outweigh any potential risk to your health.
We aim to make sure that every patient is fully informed about the risks and benefits of a procedure or treatment. Before you have the scan a radiographer will ask you for your consent (permission) for the scan to be carried out.
After your coronary calcification scan
Following your scan, you can return to your normal daily routine.
The images from the scan will need careful analysis by our staff. You will be contacted by your doctor who will discuss the results with you as soon as they become available.
The term 'heart problems' incorporate a number of specific conditions, such as coronary artery disease, angina and heart attacks.
Coronary artery disease is also known as 'ischaemic heart disease' and occurs when a fatty substance called 'atheroma' develops on the inside of an artery.
Read our patient leaflet on what to expect if you are undergoing a coronary calcification scan.
Coronary calcification scan - October 2006 (PDF, 41KB)