WELCOME to the ATRIAL SEPTAL DEFECT COMMUNITY: This Patient-To-Patient Community is for discussions relating to Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) which is a hole in the part of the septum that separates the atria (the upper chambers of the heart). This hole allows oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium to flow into the right atrium instead of flowing into the left ventricle as it should. This means that oxygen-rich blood gets pumped back to the lungs, where it has just been, instead of going to the body.
Cardiac computed tomography (to-MOG-rah-fee), or cardiac CT, is a painless test that uses an x-ray machine to take clear, detailed pictures of your heart. It's a common test for showing problems of the heart. During a cardiac CT scan, the x-ray machine will move around your body in a circle and take a picture of each part of your heart.
Because an x-ray machine is used, cardiac CT scans involve radiation. However, the amount of radiation used is small. This test gives out a radiation dose similar to the amount of radiation you’re naturally exposed to over 3 years. There is a very small chance that cardiac CT will cause cancer.
Each picture that the machine takes shows a small slice of the heart. A computer will put the pictures together to make a large picture of the whole heart. Sometimes an iodine-based dye is injected into one of your veins during the scan to help highlight blood vessels and arteries on the x-ray images.
Cardiac CT is a common test for finding and evaluating:
Because the heart is in motion, a fast type of CT scanner, called multidetector computed tomography (MDCT), is used to show high-quality pictures of the heart.
Another type of CT scanner, called electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT), is used to detect calcium in the coronary arteries. Calcium in the coronary arteries may be an early sign of coronary artery disease (CAD).
CAD occurs when the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle) harden and narrow due to the buildup of a material called plaque (plak) on their inner walls. CAD is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
Researchers also are studying new ways to use cardiac CT.
Author/Source: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Division of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]
Retrieved: July 2007