Cardiac CT

Corrigan Minehan Heart Center physicians use cardiac CT to diagnose coronary artery disease. During CT scanning, an X-ray beam passes through the body and is recorded by electronic detectors. These detectors send the information to a computer, where it is translated into an image.

Cardiac CT Scanning at the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center

Physicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center use cardiac CT scanning to detect potential cardiac conditions. CT scanning is the process of making an X-ray image of a very small section of your body. During CT scanning, an X-ray beam passes through the body and is recorded by electronic detectors. These detectors send the information to a computer where it is translated into an image. Unlike an MRI, few people become claustrophobic in CT scanners.

Mass General is the first hospital in New England to use the Siemens Definition Flash second-generation dual-source 128-detector-row CT, an advanced cardiac-capable CT scanner which allows ultra-fast cardiac imaging at the lowest possible radiation doses. This cardiac CT scaner is used exclusively for the evaluation of cardiac patients, and specifically to detect and diagnose coronary artery disease. The technology virtually freezes the heart’s motion, providing images of the heart and coronary arteries of unprecedented detail and clarity. This is achieved in a single breath hold with a scan time ranging from less than one second up to six seconds, a radiation exposure equivalent to or less than a chest CT scan, and a door-to-door time of approximately 15 minutes.

About This Procedure

The cardiac CT scanner places innovative scanning technology right into a physician's hands. With the latest and fastest multi-slice technology and dedicated clinical applications that deliver excellent image quality, it offers the highest performance to assist physicians in cardiac diagnosis.

Our imaging specialists use CT scanning to:

  • Rule out significant coronary artery disease (as part of a routine pre-operative exam) in patients with low and regular heart beats
  • Rule out coronary artery disease in patients with atypical chest pain and an intermediate risk of coronary artery disease
  • Evaluate patients with inconclusive ECG stress tests
  • Visualize anomalous coronary arteries
  • Establish the patency of bypass grafts
  • Visualize the cardiac anatomy for congenital malformations, pulmonary venous return and masses
  • Detect and quantify coronary plaque

Patients with the following conditions may not be eligible for cardiac CT scanning:

  • Arrhythmias
  • Pregnancy
  • Impaired renal function
  • Allergy to the iodinated contrast agent
  • Myeloma

Conditions and Diseases

The care team at the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center encourages all patients and family members to learn more about conditions and diseases that affect the heart and overall cardiovascular system. The links below provide more information about heart conditions and diseases that might be treated within this program.

Getting to the heart of the matter: seeing arteries in 3-D

For the first time researchers are getting a detailed look at the interior of human coronary arteries, using an optical imaging technique developed at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Mass General Imaging reduces cardiac CT radiation doses 75 percent

Radiation-reduction case study: Cardiovascular imaging team reduces radiation dose for cardiac CT angiography by employing new scanner technology and carefully tailoring each exam to the patient.

An advanced cardiac CT scanner

Physicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center use leading-edge technology to identify possible cardiac abnormalities.

Webster Center takes on radiation-dose reduction

Dr. James H. Thrall, Department of Radiology chairman emeritus, discusses The Webster Center for Advanced Research and Education in Radiation, a unique research effort dedicated to reducing radiation dose for every exam Mass General Imaging performs.

Decision tools support radiation-reduction efforts

One effective way to reduce radiation exposure is to avoid unnecessary exams. That's why Mass General Imaging has been a leader in developing software tools that guide referring physicians by not only making sure the selected exam matches the patient's needs but also suggesting radiation-free alternatives when appropriate.

Imaging specialists, focused on you

Each radiologist at Mass General Imaging is a specialist in a particular area of the body. Department of Radiology Chairman Emeritus James H. Thrall, MD, explains how patients benefit from the additional specialty training our physicians have completed.


What will we discover next?

Learn how researchers at the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center are finding new treatments that advance care for heart disease.

Award-winning cardiac care

View the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center’s latest awards for outstanding patient care and groundbreaking research.


#5 in the nation for heart care

U.S. News & World Report ranks the Mass General Corrigan Minehan Heart Center fifth among U.S. hospitals.