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Learn about Heart Imaging
Before your appointment for a CT, please print and complete the Patient Procedure Screening Form.
Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging provides cardiac CT imaging on the Mass General main campus. Our staff places priority on making your journey through the imaging process comfortable, safe, and successful. All images are read by a cardiac-imaging specialist with additional expertise in CT.
Cardiac CT overview
Cardiac CT in depth
What is cardiac CT?
A CT (computed tomography) scan is a noninvasive medical test that uses special X-ray equipment to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views of the area being studied.
A Cardiac CT scan is a non-invasive way of obtaining information about the location and extent of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries--the vessels that supply blood to the heart wall. Plaque is a build-up of fat and other substances, including calcium, which can, over time, narrow the arteries or even close off blood flow to the heart. The result may be painful angina in the chest or a heart attack. Because calcium is a marker of coronary artery disease, the amount of calcium detected on a Cardiac CT scan is a helpful diagnostic tool.
CT examinations improve health care and are an essential part of diagnosis and treatment planning. However, there are some risks associated with the level of radiation exposure during a CT and therefore the medical benefit of conducting the exam should always outweigh any risks involved. No direct data have shown that CT examinations are associated with an increased risk of cancer; extrapolations from studies of radiation exposure suggest there is a very small incremental risk.
At Mass General Imaging, we pay special attention to minimizing radiation exposure—without giving up image quality. Dose reduction has long been a priority for our entire staff, including radiologists, the technologists who administer most exams, researchers, and equipment engineers. We use many strategies to reduce exposure, from taking advantage of the latest technology to customizing exams for each patient.
Our radiologists are part of the Massachusetts General Heart Center—a multidisciplinary program that unites expert medical professionals from Imaging, Cardiology, Cardiac Surgery, Cardiac Anesthesia, and Cardiac Nursing to provide patients with the very best in cardiac care.
What should I expect BEFORE my cardiac CT?
What should I expect DURING my cardiac CT?
What should I expect AFTER my cardiac CT?
Cardiac CT gives emergency physicians the ability to predict major adverse cardiac events (MACE) in patients presenting with chest pain, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
An image processing technique called ASIR allows radiologists to reduce radiation levels in chest CT exams without sacrificing image quality or diagnostic confidence, according to a paper just published by Mass General researchers.
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.
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.
As CT (computed tomography) technology has transformed the practice of medicine, Mass General Imaging has dedicated itself to making sure each exam exposes the patient to the lowest achievable amount of radiation. Department of Radiology Chairman Emeritus James H. Thrall, MD, discusses our decade-long commitment—and our success—regarding this issue.
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.
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.
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