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.
The cardiac computed tomography (CT) scan will take place in a hospital or outpatient office.
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’s a very small chance that cardiac CT will cause cancer. A doctor who has experience with CT scanning will supervise the test.
If your doctor wants to use contrast dye during the cardiac CT scan, a small needle connected to an intravenous (IV) line will be put in a vein in your hand or arm.
The contrast dye will be injected through the IV during the scan. You may have a warm feeling during the injection. The dye will highlight your blood vessels on the
x-ray pictures from the cardiac CT scan.
The technician who operates the cardiac CT scanner will clean areas of your chest and place small sticky patches on those areas. The patches are attached to an EKG (electrocardiogram) machine to record the electrical activity of your heart during the exam.
The CT scanner is a large, square machine that has a hollow, circular tube in the middle. You will lie on your back on a sliding table that can move up and down and goes inside the tunnel-like machine.
Inside the scanner, an x-ray tube moves around your body to take pictures of different parts of your heart. These pictures can be shown on a computer as one large, three-dimensional picture. The technician controls the machine from the next room. The technician can see you through a glass window and talk to you through an intercom system.
Moving your body can cause the pictures to blur. You will be asked to lie still and hold your breath for short periods, while each picture is taken.
A cardiac CT scan usually takes about 15 minutes to complete. However, it can take over an hour to get ready for the test and for the medicine to slow your heart rate enough.
Author/Source: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Division of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]
Retrieved: June 2008