Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to prepare for the exam?
No special preparation is needed. Eat normally and take medication as usual, unless your doctor has given you other instructions. You may find it easier to relax if you avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages before the exam.

How do I prepare for a Coronary Calcium Scoring exam?
No preparation is necessary, and there are no injections.

How long does a CT scan exam require?
The dual slice helical CT scan is very fast. Once you are on the table the scans are performed during a single breath-hold, usually 20-30 seconds.

Is there any risk?
Magnetic resonance imaging is very safe. There are no health risks associated with the magnetic field or radio waves used by the machine. However, some special circumstances limit the use of a magnetic field, so it is important for you to tell us if any of the following apply to you or someone accompanying you into the exam room:

-cardiac pacemaker or artificial heart valve
-metal plate, pin or other metallic implant
-intrauterine device, such as Copper-7 IUD
-Insulin pump or other infusion pump
-aneurysm clips
-previous gun wound
-inner ear implant
-ever been a metal worker (had metal in eye)
-permanent (tattoo) eye-liner

Any metallic substance on your person can affect the quality of the diagnostic images. It can also cause discomfort or injury to you when placed in the magnetic field, and may exclude you from the exam.

Also, be sure to tell us if you are pregnant.

What does coronary calcification scoring tell you?
Coronary scoring is a safe, noninvasive and fast screening CT technique that scans the heart in a few seconds and gives a score based on the amount of calcium build up in the coronary arteries. The score is a good predictor of future coronary events and a means by which your physician can render treatment, if necessary, for coronary artery disease.

What is the contrast used in injections and what does it do?
The dye is a liquid contrast agent containing iodine. It enhances the soft tissues and helps to define abnormalities. It is essential in visualizing the blood supply to internal organs. The contrast is excreted by the kidneys within several hours. We use only nonionic contrast, a safe agent with very few side effects.

What is the Exam like?
The exam usually takes 30 to 60 minutes. It consists of several image exposures lasting 10 to 15 minutes each.

You'll be asked to remove your make-up, eyeglasses, watch, jewelry, credit cards, dentures, hearing aids and any other metallic objects you are carrying.

Then, the technologist will help you lie down on a cushioned table. A device called a 'coil' will be placed over or under you. It helps the MRI system create a clear picture of your body. When you are comfortably positioned, the table will move under the magnet. The technologist will then step into the control area, while staying in constant contact with you both visually and through an intercom. As the exam proceeds, you will hear a muffled thumping sound for several minutes at a time. Other than the sound, the MRI creates no bodily sensation.

Relax and try to lie as still as possible. Any movement during this time will blur the picture. When the exam is done, the technologist will help you off the table.

What preparation is necessary for a CT scan?
Certain CT procedures require that you drink a flavored liquid that highlights the intestine and helps to differentiate the intestine from other internal organs. We also suggest that you not eat solid food at least four hours prior to intravenous contrast injections.

What should I expect in a Coronary Artery Calcification Scoring exam?
The procedure is performed in less than 10 minutes. The data is actually acquired in a single breath-hold scan, about 20 seconds. The exam is non-claustrophobic, because your head is outside the scanner at all times. The radiation dosage is minimal, less than a regular CT.

Will I feel anything during the scan?
The MRI scan is completely painless and comfortable. Occasionally, an injection of a solution called contrast material may need to be used to better visualize the area of interest as specified by your physician. The contrast material used during an MRI scan typically has few or no side effects.