The American Hospital of Paris has an ultrafast scanner that provides 3D images of the cardiac muscle in a heartbeat. This latest-generation device can also be used to perform perfusion scans to simultaneously visualize blood supply to the heart.

What happens during a heart ct scan?

What is a heart CT scan?

A heart scanner is specially designed to study the heart. Most of the time, the aim is to detect partial or total obstruction of the coronary arteries.

An electrocardiogram is used to coordinate the timing of the x-ray pictures between heartbeats, when the heart muscles are relaxed. This allows the technologist to obtain clear images of the heart and coronary arteries.

What is the purpose of a heart CT scan?

A heart CT scan is done to detect obstruction in the coronary arteries. Sometimes the cardiologist orders the scan for other reasons: to measure the thoracic aorta; search for clots in the heart chambers; assess a patient before a procedure such as the insertion of an artificial heart valve; or treat a heart rhythm disorder.

The exam is often performed on patients who meet the following criteria: those with symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath; who present risk factors such as high cholesterol, dyslipidemia, hypertension, tobacco use and/or hereditary factors; who have an abnormal coronary calcium score; or to follow up on an equivocal or positive stress test.

What happens during a heart CT scan?

  • 1

    When you arrive, a receptionist will ask you for your prescription.

    In preparation for the exam, we will ask you detailed questions about your medical history to ensure there are no contraindications.

  • 2

    You will be called from the waiting area and given a small room where you can undress. Then, a technologist will position you on the scanning table and place electrodes on your chest, like for an electrocardiogram

  • 3

    If approved by the radiologist, the technologist may inject a medication to slow your heart rate if it is too high.

  • 4

    Before the exam, which lasts around five minutes, you will receive an injection of an iodine-based contrast dye.

  • 5

    Immediately following the exam, the radiologist will give you the result orally. Before you leave, your images and the exam report will be given to you.

What are the risks of the exam?

A heart CT scan takes pictures using x-rays. Latest-generation scanning devices ensure very low levels of radiation exposure.

The exam requires the injection of an iodine-based contrast agent, which carries a risk of allergy just like any other scan requiring an injection. If you have an allergy, your doctor can prescribe a preventive treatment. If you have already had an allergic reaction to an iodine-based contrast dye but must undergo the exam, bring the report from your previous scan on the day of the procedure so the team can choose a different contrast dye. The allergy is not caused by the iodine itself but by the epitopes contained in the contrast, which vary depending on the product.

Sometimes it is necessary to inject a beta-blocker to slow your heart rate, which may cause your blood pressure to drop. This may be combined with another medication (nitrate derivative) to dilate your arteries.

The technologist will measure your blood pressure right before the exam. In the event of low blood pressure or a contraindication for either of these medications (revealed by your medical history before the exam), they will not be used for the scan. In this case, the scan will not be as efficient, but generally still sufficient to make the diagnosis.

Important: A heart scan is contraindicated if you are pregnant.

How to prepare for a heart scan

On the day of the exam, avoid stimulants such as coffee and tea. We suggest you arrive for your appointment slightly in advance, to avoid extra stress.

You must bring the prescription from your cardiologist or doctor. If a creatinine test (kidney function) was prescribed, you also need to bring the results.

Quantification individualisée de l’inflammation des 3 principales artères coronaires

La maladie coronarienne est une maladie des artères du cœur qui aboutit à la formation de plaques (dépôts de cholestérol et de calcium) dans la paroi artérielle. Ces plaques peuvent altérer l'apport sanguin au cœur, provoquant des douleurs thoraciques et pouvant, en cas de déchirure ou rupture, entraîner la formation d'un caillot qui bloque le flux sanguin dans l'artère et provoque une crise cardiaque ou infarctus.
Au cours des vingt dernières années, plusieurs essais cliniques ont montré que l'inflammation jouait un rôle essentiel dans l’évolution de la maladie coronaire et était un facteur de risque prédictif d’événements cardiovasculaires. Comme le surpoids et la sédentarité, le diabète ou le cholestérol, l'inflammation est un aussi facteur de risque sur lequel il est possible d'agir pour réduire le risque cardiovasculaire.

Un outil d’intelligence artificielle permet aujourd’hui d’obtenir une quantification individualisée de l’inflammation des 3 principales artères coronaires. Le logiciel CaRi-Heart® (société Caristo) permet en effet de quantifier l’inflammation péricoronaire sur un scanner cardiaque et d’estimer le risque relatif du patient de subir un accident cardiaque mortel dans les 8 prochaines années par rapport aux personnes de même âge et de même sexe. Cette analyse, proposée à l’Hôpital Américain de Paris, permet ensuite au médecin de prescrire le traitement le plus indiqué pour le patient afin de réduire les facteurs de risque, y compris l'inflammation.

Cette analyse peut être reconduite lors des examens suivants pour établir des comparaisons et un suivi d’un examen sur l’autre. Ce suivi est primordial pour optimiser la prise en charge du patient (règles hygiéno-diététiques, traitement par statines).
L'analyse CaRi-Heart® nécessite que les scanners cardiaques anonymisés soient envoyés à la société Caristo qui les traitera et retournera un rapport détaillé au médecin.

  • 2000

    Number of heart CT scans performed at the American Hospital of Paris in 2019. Our imaging center features two scanners, including one ultrafast device more specifically dedicated to heart imaging procedures.
    Delivering premium customer service and medical monitoring to patients is a priority at our hospital.

What is calcium score?

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American Hospital of Paris