Radiologist preparing a patient for a CT scan
Guiding you toward better health

Computed tomography (CT) uses special X-ray equipment to get images from different angles and computer processing to create cross-sectional images, or slices, of the bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues inside your body. CT scan images provide more detailed information than plain X-rays do.

Computerized Tomography (CT)

Computerized tomography (CT) is a diagnostic imaging test used to create detailed images of internal organs, bones, soft tissue, and blood vessels. The cross-sectional images generated during a CT scan can be reformatted in multiple planes, and the scanner can even generate three-dimensional images which can be viewed on a computer monitor, printed on film, or transferred to electronic media.

CT scanning is often the best method for detecting many different cancers since the images allow your doctor to confirm the presence of a tumor and determine its size and location. CT is fast, painless, noninvasive, and accurate. In emergency cases, it can reveal internal injuries and bleeding quickly enough to help save lives.

Please note, you’re briefly exposed to ionizing radiation. The amount of radiation is greater than you would get during a plain X-ray because the CT scan gathers more detailed information. CT scans have not been shown to cause long-term harm, although there may be a very small potential to increase your risk of cancer.

CT scans have many benefits that outweigh this small potential risk. We use the lowest dose of radiation possible to obtain the needed medical information. Also, newer, faster machines and techniques require less radiation than was previously used.

Preparing for the scan:

  • Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant. Although the radiation from a CT scan is unlikely to injure your baby, your doctor may recommend another type of exam, such as ultrasound or MRI, to avoid exposing your baby to radiation

During the scan:

  • The whole procedure typically takes about 30 minutes
  • CT scanners are shaped like a large doughnut standing on its side. You lie on a narrow, motorized table that slides through the opening into a tunnel. Straps and pillows may be used to help you stay in position. During a head scan, the table may be fitted with a special cradle that holds your head still
  • While the table moves you into the scanner, detectors and the X-ray tube rotate around you. Each rotation yields several images of thin slices of your body. You may hear buzzing, clicking, and whirring noises
  • A technologist in a separate room can see and hear you. You will be able to communicate with the technologist via intercom. The technologist may ask you to hold your breath at certain points to avoid blurring the images
  • Your doctor may recommend you receive a special dye called a contrast material through a vein in your arm before your CT scan. Although rare, the contrast material can cause medical problems or allergic reactions. Tell your doctor if you’ve ever had a reaction to contrast material

After the scan:

  • You can return to your normal routine. If you were given a contrast material, you may receive special instructions
  • You may be asked to wait for a short time before leaving to ensure that you feel well after the exam
  • Drink lots of fluids to help your kidneys remove the contrast material from your body

Your CT images will be interpreted and a report of the findings will be sent to your physician, who will then discuss the results with you.

Computerized Tomography Angiogram (CTA)

Computerized Tomography Angiogram (CTA) uses advanced CT technology to obtain high-resolution, 3D pictures of the heart and the blood vessels. At Vital Heart & Vein, your CT scan will be performed on the GE LightSpeed® CT scanner that can capture exceptionally high-resolution images of heart and vascular structures in just a few seconds

CTA provides images that will allow your cardiologist to complete a thorough, non-invasive cardiac exam that will show any blockages in the heart arteries, the pumping action of the heart, and provide a coronary calcium score that can be used to assess a heart disease risk. CTA is also a great test for diagnosing peripheral arterial disease. It is the preferred imaging modality for planning endovascular interventions for abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurysms and lower-extremity arteries.

A CTA can be performed faster than a cardiac catheterization, with potentially less risk and discomfort as well as decreased recovery time.

At Vital Heart & Vein, we adhere to the practice of keeping imaging exam radiation exposure as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). Our testing staff is trained to minimize the radiation dose used during each procedure while optimizing the quality of the test by using the following techniques:

  • Lead shielding of radiosensitive areas
  • Minimizing the area of interest for the test to that of concern only
  • Using attenuation modulation to minimize the radiation dose produced by the equipment

Preparing for the scan:

  • Do not eat or drink 4 hours prior to your scan
  • Take your medication with a small amount of water
  • Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time

During the scan:

  • Depending on the specific exam, the entire exam may take up to 45 minutes from beginning to end
  • A CT technologist will escort you into the CT scanning room, where you’ll see a table and a large, doughnut-shaped device called a gantry
  • The technologist will have you lie down on the table and make sure you’re comfortable You’ll be asked to lie very still during the scan and hold your breath for a short time to minimize any body movement
  • The actual scan portion of the exam takes only a few seconds. You will be asked to stay still and hold your breath as the CT scanner acquires the X-ray images of your body
  • During the scan, you might hear a humming noise, but you will not feel anything unusual. You may feel the table move while images are being taken at certain locations of your body. The technologist will monitor you during the entire exam through a window and can communicate with you through an intercom
    The actual scan portion of the exam takes only a few seconds. You will be asked to stay still and hold your breath as the CT scanner acquires the X-ray images of your body
  • Your doctor may recommend you receive a special dye called a contrast material. This will help improve the accuracy of the examination. Although rare, the contrast material can cause medical problems or allergic reactions. Tell your doctor if you’ve ever had a reaction to contrast material

It is very important that you keep your appointment once it is scheduled. If you must cancel your appointment, please give the office at least 24 hours notice by calling 281.359.4888.

Our testing schedule requires tight time restrictions, so please notify the office immediately if you will be late for your appointment. We appreciate your complete cooperation.

Your CT images will be interpreted and a report of the findings will be sent to your physician, who will then discuss the results with you.

The test will be performed at the Kingwood location:

22999 U.S. Hwy. 59, Suite 210
Kingwood, TX 77339

Calcium Score

A calcium score is a test used to detect calcium deposits found in atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries using state-of-the-art computerized tomography (CT) methods. More coronary calcium means more coronary atherosclerosis, suggesting a greater likelihood of significant narrowing somewhere in the coronary system and a higher risk of future cardiovascular events.

A calcium score screening is to evaluate risk for future coronary artery disease.

Those at an increased risk include individuals with the following traits:

  • Family or personal history of coronary artery disease
  • Male over 45 years of age
  • Female over 55 years of age
  • Past or present smoker
  • History of high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Overweight
  • Inactive lifestyle

Because there are certain forms of coronary disease that escape detection during this CT scan, it is important to remember that this test is not absolute in predicting your risk for a life-threatening event, such as a heart attack.

Please note, CT scanners use X-rays. For your safety, the amount of radiation exposure is kept to a minimum.

Preparing for the scan:

  • Please let us know if you’re pregnant or if there’s a possibility you could be pregnant. Although the radiation from a CT scan is unlikely to injure your baby, we may recommend another exam to avoid exposing your baby to radiation.
  • Tell your doctor if you are currently undergoing radiation therapy

During the scan:

  • The calcium-score screening heart scan takes only a few minutes
  • You will lie on a special scanning table and three electrodes attached to an electrocardiograph (EKG) monitor will be placed on your chest to chart your heart’s electrical activity during the test
  • During the scan, the table will move inside the scanner
  • The high-speed CT scan captures multiple images that are synchronized with your heartbeat. A sophisticated computer program, guided by the cardiovascular radiologist, then analyzes the images for presence of calcification within the coronary arteries

If calcium is present, the computer will create a calcium score that estimates the extent of coronary artery disease. The absence of calcium is considered a “negative” exam, and does not exclude the presence of soft noncalcified plaque.

After the procedure you may continue all normal activities and eat as usual.

Please note, this CT calcium score scan is a screening examination and is frequently not covered by certain insurance companies. Therefore, you may be responsible for all involved costs at the time of the exam; however, you will be notified in advance by our office.