CT Angiography

CT AngiographyAt UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test, and we invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the scan and how you can help.

Fast Facts About the CT Angiography

  • Your child will not be able to eat or drink anything four hours before the scan.
  • You will check in 2 hours prior to your scheduled examination time to register and begin preparations for your child's scan.
  • CT Angiogram will always involve injecting a contrast agent through an intravenous line, or IV, placed in a vein in your child's arm. This IV contrast allows our radiologist to clearly visualize the arteries. 
  • How we inject the IV contrast will depend on your child's age and weight.
  • IV contrast given to children under 2 years old may be injected by hand. All other children will receive the contrast through a specially designed injector that fills the vessels in a steady and even flow.
  • IV Contrast contains iodine. If your child has ever had a reaction to iodine, please let your doctor and CT technologist know immediately. 
  • If your child has a contrast allergy, you will be given special instruction on premedication for your child prior to their CT scan.
  • If your child's doctor ordered a CT angiogram of the abdomen (stomach), your child may have to also drink a special contrast. 
  • The decision as to whether or not your child will receive this drink will be made by our pediatric radiologist who will be overseeing the test. 
  • If your child must drink the contrast, he or she will be given three cups. The amount given depends on your child's age and weight. Your child must drink each cup 30 minutes apart from each other. 
  • Children under the age of 10 may require general anesthesia before undergoing a CTA.  This will be determined during the scheduling and screening process.

What Is CT Angiography?

Computerized tomographic angiography, also called CT angiography or CTA, is a test that creates detailed images of the blood vessels in your body.

During a CT scan, X-rays and computers create images that show pictures of inside your body. Then through an intravenous line or IV, a contrast agent is injected into a vein in your arm to help visualize the blood vessels and the blood flow within them. When the IV contrast is used to visualize your arteries, it is known as an arteriogram or CTA. Your child’s doctor may order CT angiography to help diagnose a narrowing or obstruction of the arteries, an aneurysm, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or another vascular condition.

The Test

  • Your child will be asked to lie down on the table.
  • The CT technologist will place a wide strap across your child's waist to help your child remain still during the test. 
  • Once your child is in position on the table, the CT technologist will move the table into the CT scanner so that the right body part is under the camera.
  • At times during the CT scan, the staff will not be in the scanner room with you but will be in a room nearby where the equipment controls are located. They will be able to see you and your child through a large window and will be watching him or her constantly during the scan. An intercom system will allow you to talk to them and vice versa.
  • The CT scanner will make a noise that sounds like a washing machine or humming sound as it takes the pictures.
  • Once the scan begins, your child will need to stay very still at all times to make sure the pictures turn out clear.
  • The CT technologist will administer the IV contrast agent called Isovue 370. After the contrast goes into the vein, your child may feel a flush of warmth all over their body as well as in the back of his or her mouth. The warm feeling is normal and will go away shortly.
  • While the CT technologist is giving the IV contrast, they will be taking pictures. 
  • After the scan is finished, the IV placed to administer the contrast will be taken out by our CT technologist or nurse. 
  • This scan takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes.

After the Test

A report of your child's scan will be sent to the doctor who ordered it, usually within 24 hours. If the results are urgent, the referring doctor will be contacted immediately. The ordering doctor will follow up with you regarding the results of the exam, usually within 24 hours of receiving them.