CT Coronary Angiography (CTCA)

Computed Tomography (CT) uses an X-Ray machine and advanced computer programs to create two and three-dimensional images of your body. During a CT coronary angiography, a CT scanner is used to examine the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart.

This scan involves injecting contrast through a vein in your arm, which highlights these vessels.

A CT coronary angiography, or CTCA, is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging test that uses a CT scan to create detailed images of the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart muscle. It is typically performed to identify the presence, extent and severity of coronary plaques or atherosclerosis, which may cause chest pain along with other symptoms and is the cause of most heart attacks.

A low and steady heart rate is essential for a CTCA scan, so please avoid the following before your scan:

  • Products containing caffeine, including tea, coffee, decaf tea and coffee products, soft drinks, and chocolate, for 24 hours
  • Viagra, Cialis, or any medication used for erectile dysfunction for 72 hours
  • Exercise on the day of your scan

You will need to fast for 2 hours before your examination, but please continue to drink water to ensure you are
well-hydrated. You can continue to take any routine medications (except those for erectile dysfunction) on the day of the scan.

Please wear loose clothing to your appointment, preferably with no metal. In some instances, you may be given a gown to wear, as some materials and embellishments may show up on the scan.

You may be asked to remove objects like watches or jewellery for your scan, so consider leaving any valuables at home.

Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment with your Medicare card and/or concession card, your referral, and any previous scans. If you have a child aged 6 or under, they must be supervised by an adult other than the patient.

The radiographer performing your CTCA scan will provide you with a full explanation of the procedure on the day. They will perform a set of observations, which include recording your blood pressure and heart rate.

Depending on your heart rate and blood pressure, a Qscan Cardiac Radiologist may prescribe some beta blocking medication to reduce your heart rate. These medications require 45-60 minutes to take effect, and most patients won’t notice any difference.

After you have completed the pre-examination assessment and your heart rate is within the acceptable scanning range, you may be asked to change into a gown. A technician will then position you on the table and connect you to a heart monitor via several ECG leads placed on your chest. A cannula will then be inserted into one of your arm veins.

Immediately prior to the scan, Glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) in the form of a spray will be administered under your tongue. This causes your coronary arteries to dilate, making it easier to accurately assess the heart vessels on your scan. The GTN may give some people a mild headache, but this generally only lasts for 10-20 mins.

During the scan, CT contrast will be injected through your cannula. As the contrast circulates through your body, you may notice a warm sensation and/or a metallic taste or smell in your mouth or throat. This is normal and generally only lasts for about 30 seconds. You will also be asked to hold your breath several times during the scan for periods of up to 15 seconds.

The scan itself does not take very long, however, you should allow about 2 hours for your appointment, as the process includes a pre-examination assessment, administration of beta-blockers if required, the CT scan itself, and post-procedure care.

Timing will depend on the examination you are having. Although the scan time is very fast, the work up process is quite involved and it is recommended that you allow at least 2 hours for pre-examination purposes.


All CTCA examinations are performed using the lowest radiation dose possible, to produce the required diagnostic images. The risks from this small amount of radiation are very low and health experts feel that the benefits of the diagnostic information obtained will outweigh any potential risks.

Another risk associated with a CTCA scan is having an allergic reaction to either the CT Contrast or Beta blocking mediation. Reactions to these medications are rare and reactions can range from very mild to moderate and in very rare cases to a severe reaction requiring emergency medical treatment.

If you have any concerns about the risks associated with this scan, please contact your referring doctor.


 If you have been referred by a specialist, your CTCA scan will be bulk billed, and you will not incur an out-of-pocket expense, provided all Medicare eligibility requirements have been met. Referrals from your GP will incur an out-of-pocket expense, and a customer service team member will be able to provide you with information about this when you make a booking.

Images obtained from your scan are digitally recorded.   At Qscan, a subspecialty trained Radiologist interprets the images obtained and provides a report for your doctor within 24 hours.

Reports and images will be available electronically via the Qscan MyResults Patient Access app and web portal 7 days after your report has been processed.  If required, films are available for collection or delivery to your referring practitioner.  You may need to make a follow up appointment to discuss the results with your referring practitioner.

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