The Duke Cardiothoracic division of Radiology in collaboration with Cardiology is pleased to provide cardiovascular computed tomographic angiography (CTA)- an emerging non-invasive, fast, and reliable study for evaluation of the heart, coronary arteries, and pulmonary veins. High resolution images acquired during diastole significantly reduces motion artifact seen with conventional CT which may obscure underlying pathology.

Benefits of cardiac CTA

  • Non-invasive: compared to cardiac catheterization, cardiac CTA only requires an IV, not femoral access or the passage of wires and catheters into the aorta and coronary arteries, thereby eliminating the risk of iatrogenic vascular injury, stroke, and myocardial infarction.
  • Less contrast volume: cardiac CTA uses, on average, 50% less contrast than cardiac catheterization, which reduces the likelihood of nephrotoxicity.
  • Fast: a cardiac CTA exam can be performed in a few seconds.
  • High sensitivity: cardiac CTA has both high spatial and temporal resolution which allows for the accurate detection of both calcified and non-calcified (“soft”) atherosclerotic plaques. National statistics indicate that approximately 1 out of every 3 patients who undergo cardiac catheterization do not have disease requiring intervention. The high negative predictive value of CTA allows more efficient triage and resource allocation and minimizes unnecessary procedures.

Potential Disadvantages

  • Radiation dose: the typical radiation dose for cardiac CTA is 8-12 mSv, which is the equivalent of approximately 600 chest x-rays, or exposure to natural background radiation over 3 years. This is greater than the radiation dose acquired during cardiac catheterization, but is much less than that of a nuclear stress test (dose range of 12-25 mSv). Advances in CT technology continue to decrease patient radiation exposure through faster scan times and dose-modulation techniques.


To schedule a cardiac CTA, please contact our nurse coordinator:

Roxanne Palmer, RN
Phone: (919) 681-6238
Fax: (919) 681-7177