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Computed Tomography Angiography
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Computed Tomography Angiography?

Computed tomography angiography (CTA) is a specialized x-ray that examines blood flow in arteries when they are filled with a contrast material (a substance that makes the blood vessels show on an x-ray). Computed tomography (CT) uses a complex machine to take x-rays from many different views, producing detailed two-dimensional images that can be combined by a computer to form three-dimensional images.

CTA can be used to view blood vessels throughout the body. It is most commonly used to study the:

  • Brain
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys
  • Legs or arms

Blood Vessel in Brain
Blood Vessel in Brain
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

This test is used to help doctors identify diseased, narrowed, enlarged, and blocked blood vessels and locate where internal bleeding may be occurring. Some specific uses include:

  • Detecting atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) or an aneurysm (ballooning out of a section of a blood vessel)
  • Examining arteries in the lungs to check for blockage of a blood vessel by a blood clot or other foreign substance
  • Evaluating disease in kidney arteries

Heart Attack
Heart Attack
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Possible Complications

Some possible complications with this test include:

  • Allergic reactions to contrast material
  • Bleeding
  • Kidney damage

There are certain factors that may put you at risk for complications during this test:

  • Allergies—especially to x-ray dye, iodine, medicines, or certain foods , including shellfish
  • Underlying kidney problems or diabetes —You may have a higher risk of decreased kidney function from the x-ray dye.
  • Bleeding disorder

Call Your Doctor

After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of allergic reaction, including flushing, hives , and itching
  • Swollen or itchy eyes
  • Difficulty breathing or a feeling of tightness in your throat
  • Nausea

In case of an emergency, **CALL...