What is a CT coronary angiography scan?

A CT (computerised tomography) scan is a special X-ray test that allows us to take detailed images of the body. 

A CT coronary angiography scan takes pictures of your heart and coronary arteries. This allows us to see any narrowing or blockage of the arteries around your heart.

What are the benefits?

The results of the scan will help your doctor diagnose any health problems you have been experiencing and decide on further treatment for you.

Are there any alternatives?

CT coronary angiography is non-invasive, which reduces the risk of complications. 

Other tests including MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and echo scans provide information on how well your heart is functioning, but only a CT coronary angiography scan gives us enough information about the structure of your heart.

What happens if I do not have the scan?

Your doctor may not have all the information needed to make a diagnosis. This may affect the type of treatment he or she can suggest for you.

How is a scan carried out?

Our radiographer will ask you to lie on a bed that will move through the scanner. We will place electrodes (small sticky patches connected to leads) on your chest. The electrodes are connected to a monitor that records the rhythm and electrical activity of your heart. 

We can then trigger the scanner to take a picture at a certain point during your heartbeat. This gives us high quality images of your heart and arteries. 

A special dye is then injected into a small vein in your arm so that we can see your heart and arteries clearly. 

It can be difficult for us to get a clear picture if your heart is beating too quickly. We will check your heart rate when you arrive and if it is faster than the ideal rate, we may give you some medication to slow it down. This may be in the form of a tablet or an injection and can take up to an hour to work. As soon as your heart rate is beating at the right pace, we will perform the scan.

To help us get a clear picture of your heart, we will ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds during the scan. We will discuss this with you before your scan so you know exactly what to do. 

The scan takes around 15 minutes. However, you may have to stay with us for over an hour if we have to give you medication as described above.

After the scan

The medication can make you a little drowsy for up to a few hours after the scan. Please avoid driving or cycling to or from your appointment. 

It is also a good idea to ask someone to come with you to the appointment.

Explain My Procedure: video animation to help guide you through your procedure 

Explain My Procedure uses video animation to help patients understand what their recommended cardiac procedure will involve, the associated risks and benefits, and possible alternatives. You can view this simple video animation on the Explain My Procedure platform to help you further understand what a coronary angiography scan will involve, the associated risks and benefits, and possible alternatives. To find out more about Explain My Procedure, click here

Where is the CT scanner?

Harefield Hospital

The CT scanner is in the X-ray department.

Telephone: 01895 828 609

Royal Brompton Hospital 

There are two CT scanners at the hospital;

  1. basement of Fulham Wing /South Block(please report to X-ray reception, ground floor, Fulham Wing)
  2. x-ray department, level 3, Sydney Wing (please report to X-ray reception on level 3, Sydney Wing). 

Tel: 020 7351 8220

Please check your appointment letter carefully. If you are unsure where to go, please phone us on 020 7351 8220 or ask at reception.

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.