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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

3D CT angiography

CT angiography (CTA) is a diagnostic tool our radiologists use to locate tumors in the body, determine if cancer has spread, and detect any abnormal blood vessels that may indicate a health risk.

During the CT scan, X-rays obtain multiple, detailed 3D images of inside the body, specifically the blood vessels, arteries and veins.

How it works

First, the patient lies on a table while an IV is placed in his/her arm. Once the IV is in place, the patient is glided into the CT machine, which is like a tunnel.

A special contrasting agent, or dye, is then administered through the IV. During the CT scan, this contrasting agent flows through the veins, causing the blood vessels to “light up” so abnormalities may be easily detected. The areas that appear darker on the screen may indicate narrowing or blockage that may be a cause for concern.

CT angiography produces multiple X-rays of cross sections of the body, which are reconstructed through a computer to form a 3D picture. A CTA may help determine the location of a tumor, and where to administer cancer therapies.

This test may be a preferable alternative to a standard angiogram, which involves placement of a catheter through a large artery.

Advantages of CTA

Potential advantages of a CTA include:

  • Provides more detailed images than MRI or ultrasound
  • Is less time-consuming than a standard angiogram
  • May be used to examine almost every blood vessel in the body, as well as the brain, heart, lungs, pelvis, abdomen and extremities
  • The procedure itself is painless and typically lasts about 30-60 minutes