Having a Cardiac CT Scan in Hospital

you're about to have a CT scan and it's

a CT scan of the heart and I want to

take a picture of a heart to do that I

need your help


before you have the procedure you'll

also be asked to go over whether you've

got any particular reactions or

allergies that might be important in the

scan and there'll be a full question

area given to you and asked prior to the

procedure so it depends a little bit on

what we hear from the patient there'll

be a few questions who ask it's not


we rarely don't do the scan we'll have

to put a little drip in their little

plastic drip in the arm usually in the

elbow if we can sometimes in the back of

the hand and that's done before the

procedure and before you go into the

room and we use that so that we can give

the dye or as known as contrast during

the course of the scanner we sometimes

have to put a little bit of beta blocker

which is an intravenous drug which slows

the heart rate down and takes a bit of

the adrenaline that we all pump takes

the edge off that as it goes around the

body so when you actually get invited

into the room first thing to remembers

try to stay relaxed it's very

straightforward it's not a difficult

test you're not going to have to do

anything very complicated and the more

relaxed you are the better your heart

rate and the better the picture so

remember that as your top priority the

second thing is as soon as you're lying

on the bed well almost certainly connect

you up to the ECG monitor using our four

stickers and once we've done that we'll

check what your heart rates doing if

you're relaxed and your heart rate is

nice and relaxed and we can go straight

ahead now before we start I need to give

you a little spray under the tongue of

something called GTN spray which opens

up the arteries we get a slightly better

view of what's going on just to warn you

you may get a minor headache but it

wears off very quickly the crucial thing

about this test is holding your breath

kind of apart from relaxing it's the

most important thing we do and the

reason for that is your heart has tucked

underneath your ribs and we have to take

a picture over a few seconds when we

take that picture over about five

seconds we don't want the whole chest to

move because if the whole chest is

moving unfortunately the heart

underneath moves with it you'll be lying

on your back so some people like to

imagine they've got a drink or a cup of

water sitting on their chest and when

they hold it still they imagine it

doesn't move that they keep things nice

and still if your chest is still your

heart is therefore still and we get nice

pictures what I'd like you to do is try

and hold your breath for about five

seconds three times on three separate


about a minute apart so you've got

plenty of time to recover and what

you're here is breathe in breathe out

breathe in and hold it and then they

want you to hold your breath for five

seconds and then breathe away and you're

going to do that three times with about

a minute gap in between the three scans

sometimes we do four scans but usually

through the first scan is always a setup

scan and that's a very quick scan the

second and third scan usually involve a

small amount of contrast and as far as

you're concerned you'll just get a

slight hot sensation so that's the dye

or the contrast that goes in through the

drip and the second of the scans it's a

very tiny dose and you'll get a tiny you

mainly get nothing at all you make it a

very slight hot sensation but after the

third scan and the final scan which is

the most important scan at the end of

the scan just as we finished you'll

start to get this flushed sensation

going through the body like having a

quite impressive hot flush and it makes

you feel like you want to go to the loo

or you've even been to the moon gives

your funny hot sensations and sometimes

a funny taste in the mouth it's very

quick it almost goes as quickly as it

comes but it's a bit unexpected if

you're not aware of it so we just warn

people it's not a problem it's not

particularly nasty it's just a weird

sensation for a few seconds that's all

so in terms of how long you might be in

the scanner once you get in the scanner

providing your heart rate is fine and we

don't have to give you a little bit of

beta-blocker it's a very quick scan once

a scanning start it's about three

minutes it's incredibly quick there's a

little bit of setting up while we

connect you up to the ECG leads and we

usually allow about fifteen to twenty

minutes for each patient and that

involves getting the patient on

reassuring them connecting them up doing

the tests and getting them off so the

actual test the actual scanning is very

short and once you've had the scan it's

very quick afterwards you can hang

around for five to ten minutes we

usually recommend that make sure you're

happy we take the drip out make sure

there's no bleeding from where the drip

went in and then we can say

most patients that we stand actually

they don't have heart disease and it's a

good test for saying that you haven't

got heart disease and we can reassure

you if you have and we find a bit of

narrowing in the arteries then we can

then go on and do other tests as

appropriate it's a good test for sorting

out people you've got chest pain but we

can't quite work out what's going on

occasionally we get referred for other

reasons including people a bit short of

breath and other reasons but that's the

main reason one gets it