Coronary CT angiography is a non-invasive cardiac exam that uses X-rays to create a three-dimensional image of the anatomy of the heart. An iodinated-dye may also be injected for this procedure to allow the physician to visualize the coronary arteries. This imaging technique is becoming the gold standard for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. In addition, coronary CT angiography is greatly beneficial because it has proven to decrease patient length of stay and to greatly reduce hospital costs.
Aids In Detecting Subclinical Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is the medical term for plaque buildup in the coronary arteries or blockage of the coronary arteries. The procedure of coronary CT angiography contains a component called coronary artery calcium score (CACS). CACS is a very useful predictor of coronary artery disease and can be used to diagnose coronary artery disease even before the patient exhibits any symptoms.
The use of CACS in the detection of subclinical atherosclerosis can greatly reduce the number of cardiac events and prevent coronary artery disease from progressing because treatment can be administered before the patient’s condition escalates.
Accelerates Patient Care
The use of coronary CT angiography is very beneficial in expediting patient care. Patients that are in the emergency room for acute chest pain can be immediately evaluated and treated. In contrast, nuclear stress testing, which is the competitor exam to coronary CT angiography, requires a cardiologist to be present for the exam and a staff of nuclear medicine technologists and nurses to perform the exam.
Nuclear stress tests are commonly not performed for 12-24 hours after the patient enters the emergency room, thus, diagnosis and treatment is delayed by at least 12-24 hours which could have life or death consequences for the patient.
Reduces Overall Medical Costs
The use of coronary CT angiography is not only a great technique for detection of coronary artery disease, it also proves greatly beneficial to the financial bottom line of any health care institution. The fact that this exam can be performed while the patient is still in the emergency room can greatly reduce the hospital length of stay for the patient.
If the scan is performed and the patient is “ruled out” for coronary artery disease, the patient can ultimately be safely discharged and not require, at a minimum, an overnight stay in the hospital. In addition, the bottom line is also aided by the fact that by performing a coronary CT angiography exam, the results are so conclusive that further medical testing may not be required, thus, reducing the need for unnecessary medical testing and further aiding the bottom line of the healthcare institution.