CT Angiography

What is CT angiography?

Angiography is a minimally invasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Angiography uses one of three imaging technologies and, in some cases, a contrast material to produce pictures of major blood vessels throughout the body.

Angiography is performed using:

  • x-rays with catheters
  • computed tomography (CT)
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

In CT angiography (CTA), computed tomography using a contrast material produces the detailed pictures. CT imaging uses special x-ray equipment to produce multiple images and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

CT angiography is used to examine blood vessels in key areas of the body, including the:

  • brain
  • kidneys
  • pelvis
  • legs
  • lungs
  • heart
  • neck

Physicians use the procedure to:

  • identify disease and aneurysms in the aorta or in other major blood vessels
  • detect atherosclerosis disease in the carotid artery of the neck, which may limit blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke
  • identify a small aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation inside the brain
  • detect atherosclerotic disease that has narrowed the arteries to the legs and help prepare for surgery
  • indicate disease in the renal artery or visualize blood flow to help prepare for a kidney transplant
  • guide surgeons making repairs to diseased blood vessels, such as implanting or evaluating a stent
  • detect injury to one of more arteries in trauma patients
  • evaluate the details of arteries feeding a tumor prior to surgery
  • identify dissection in the aorta or its major branches
  • show the extent and severity of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries
  • plan for a surgical operation, such as coronary bypass
  • screen individuals for arterial disease, especially patients with a family history of arterial disease or disorders
  • evaluate prospective kidney donors
  • examine pulmonary arteries in the lungs to rule out pulmonary embolism
  • detect thrombosis (clots) in veins