About

Our Cardiac Imaging Lab is proud to offer a newer alternative to the more invasive coronary angiogram. Coronary CTA examinations are becoming more frequently used, as this new technology can non-invasively detect soft plaque (fatty matter) in the arterial walls that has not yet hardened, but that may lead to future problems without lifestyle changes or medical treatment. In some cases CT angiography may prevent the need for more invasive tests. Although our Cardiovascular Center currently supports the use of CTA for many of our patients, this procedure is not recommended and will not be useful in all cases. It is very important that you speak with your physician to find out whether this technology is right for you.

Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) Scan

What is a CT or CAT scan?

A CT or CAT scan is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, organs, and blood vessels. CT scans are more detailed than standard X-rays.

In standard X-rays, a beam of energy is aimed at the body part being studied. A plate behind the body part captures the variations of the energy beam after it passes through skin, bone, muscle, and other tissue. While much information can be obtained from a regular X-ray, a lot of detail about internal organs and other structures is not available.

In computed tomography, the X-ray beam moves in a circle around the body. This allows many different views of the same organ or structure, and provides much greater detail. The X-ray information is sent to a computer that interprets the X-ray data and displays it in two-dimensional form on a monitor. Newer technology and computer software makes three-dimensional (3-D) images possible.

CT scans may be done with or without contrast. "Contrast" refers to a substance taken by mouth or injected into an intravenous (IV) line that causes the particular organ or tissue under study to be seen more clearly. Contrast examinations may require you to fast for a certain period of time before the procedure. Your doctor will notify you of this prior to the procedure.

CT scans may be performed to help diagnose tumors, investigate internal bleeding, or check for other internal injuries or damage.

You may want to ask your doctor about the amount of radiation used during the CT procedure and the risks related to your particular situation. It is a good idea to keep a record of your past history of radiation exposure, such as previous CT scans and other types of X-rays, so that you can inform your doctor. Risks associated with radiation exposure may be related to the cumulative number of X-ray examinations and/or treatments over a long period of time. If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your doctor.

Advances in computed tomography technology include the following:

  • High-resolution computed tomography. This type of CT scan uses very thin slices (less than one-tenth of an inch), which are effective in providing greater detail in certain conditions such as lung disease.

  • Helical or spiral computed tomography. During this type of CT scan, both the patient and the X-ray beam move continuously, with the X-ray beam circling the patient. The images are obtained much more quickly than with standard CT scans. The resulting images have greater resolution and contrast, thus providing more detailed information. Multidetector row helical CT scanners may be used to obtain information about calcium build-up inside the coronary arteries of the heart.

  • Ultrafast computed tomography (also called electron beam computed tomography). This type of CT scan produces images very rapidly, thus creating a type of "movie" of moving parts of the body, such as the chambers and valves of the heart. This scan may also be used to obtain information about calcium build-up inside the coronary arteries of the heart, but the helical scanners are much more common.

  • Computed tomographic angiography (CTA). Angiography (or arteriography) is an X-ray image of the blood vessels. A CT angiogram uses CT technology rather than standard X-rays or fluoroscopy to obtain images of blood vessels, for example, the coronary arteries of the heart.

  • Combined computed tomography and positron emission tomography (PET/CT). The combination of computed tomography and positron emission tomography technologies into a single machine is referred to as PET/CT. PET/CT combines the ability of CT to provide detailed anatomy with the ability of PET to show cell function and metabolism to offer greater accuracy in the diagnosis and treatment of certain types of diseases, particularly cancer. PET/CT may also be used to evaluate epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, and coronary artery disease.

Studies show that 85 percent of the population will not experience an adverse reaction from iodinated contrast; however, you will need to let your doctor know if you have ever had a reaction to any contrast dye, and/or any kidney problems. A reported seafood allergy is not considered to be a contraindication for iodinated contrast. If you have any medical conditions or recent illnesses, inform your doctor. The effects of kidney disease and contrast agents have attracted increased attention over the last decade, as patients with kidney disease are more prone to kidney damage after contrast exposure. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, you should notify your health care provider. If you are claustrophobic or tend to become anxious easily, tell your doctor ahead of time, as he or she may prescribe a mild sedative for you before the procedure to make you more comfortable. It will be necessary for you to remain still and quiet during the procedure, which may last 10 to 20 minutes.

How is a CT or CAT scan performed?

CT scans can be performed on an outpatient basis, unless they are part of a patient's inpatient care. Although each facility may have specific protocols in place, generally, CT scans follow this process:

  1. When the patient arrives for the CT scan, he or she will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that may interfere with the scan.

  2. If the patient will be having a procedure done with contrast, an intravenous (IV) line will be started in the hand or arm for injection of the contrast medication. For oral contrast, the patient will be given the contrast material to swallow.

  3. The patient will lie on a scan table that slides into a large, circular opening of the scanning machine.

  4. The CT staff will be in another room where the scanner controls are located. However, the patient will be in constant sight of the staff through a window. Speakers inside the scanner will enable the staff to communicate with and hear the patient. The patient may have a call bell so that he or she can let the staff know if he or she has any problems during the procedure.

  5. As the scanner rotates around the patient, X-rays will pass through the body for short amounts of time. The motion is hidden inside the gantry, the doughnut-shaped part of the machine. The patient may hear buzzing, whirring, and clicking as the X-ray tube rotates.

  6. The X-rays absorbed by the body's tissues will be detected by the scanner and transmitted to the computer.

  7. The computer will transform the information into an image to be interpreted by the radiologist.

  8. It is very important that the patient remain very still during the procedure. You may be asked to hold your breath at various times during the procedure.

  9. The technologist will be watching the patient at all times and will be in constant communication.

  10. The patient may be asked to wait for a short period of time while the radiologist examines the scans to make sure they are clear. If the scans are not clear enough to obtain adequate information, the patient may need to have additional scans performed.

Cardiologists

Feras M. Bader, M.D.

Feras Bader, MD, MS, FACC is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Cardiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. In 1992 he received a full scholarship and began his undergraduate and medical training at the University of Jordan School of Medicine in Amman, Jordan; which he completed in 1998. He went... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-5122
University Hospital (801) 585-3693

Nathaniel M. Birgenheier, M.D.

Dr. Birgenheier is an anesthesiologist who focuses on cardiac anesthesia and the use of echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) both in the operating room and in the outpatient setting. He is a board-certified anesthesiologist qualified to provide anesthesia for all types of surgery and procedures who has adv... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Cardiothoracic Anesthesia, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Amber D. Bledsoe, M.D.

Dr. Bledsoe is an Anesthesiologist at the University of Utah, specializing in perioperative echocardiography. She is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and the National Board of Echocardiography, both in Perioperative Transesophageal Echocardiography and Adult Echocardiography. She has a p... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Bruce E. Bray, M.D.

Dr. Bray is an Associate Professor at the University of Utah. Dr. Bray studied Biology at Loma Linda University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science. He subsequently obtained a medical degree from Loma Linda University. Dr. Bray completed an Internal Medicine Residency at Kettering Medical Center, and comple... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Medical Informatics

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-7676
William B. Ririe Hospital & Rural Health Clinic (775) 289-3612

Jennifer A. DeCou, M.D.

Dr. DeCou has a special interest in patients with cardiac disease and a special expertise in echocardiography. She is a level 3 trained echocardiographer. In addition, she specializes in the preop evaluations of patients for surgery.... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-6393

Edward Michael Gilbert, M.D.

Edward Michael Gilbert, MD is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Gilbert received his medical degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. He completed his training in Internal Medicine and in Critical Care at Wayne State University. He completed his Cardiovascular Di... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant

Locations:

Billings Clinic (800) 332-7156
Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center (208) 367-4278
University Hospital (801) 585-5122
University Hospital (801) 585-3693
Veterans Administration Medical Center (801) 584-1235

Leif Jensen, M.D., M.P.H.

Leif Jensen, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. Originally from Minnesota, he completed his medical degree at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, followed by a surgical internship at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. He completed residency training in Ra... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Radiology, Thoracic Imaging, X-Ray

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Lillian L. Khor, M.Sc., M.B.B.Ch.

Lillian Khor received a foreign medical degree, M.B.BCh., BAO degree (equivalent to M.D.) from the National University of Ireland in 1997. She concluded her foreign medical training with an internal medicine residency and moved here in 2000, and repeated her internal medicine Internship and Residency at the Univ... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Preventive Cardiology

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-7676

Christopher J. McGann, M.D.

Christopher J. McGann, M.D., has appointments in both the Cardiology Division and Radiology Department at the University of Utah, where he has been a faculty member since 2002. He currently serves as the Section Chief of General Cardiology and the Director of Cardiovascular Imaging. He received his medical degre... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Valvular Heart Disease

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-0555

Shaji C. Menon, M.B.B.S., M.D.

Shaji Menon, MD is a Pediatric Cardiologist at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Primary Children´s Medical Center.

Dr. Menon sees children and adolescents with all forms of congenital heart disease. D... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Fetal Echocardiography, Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Imaging

Locations:

PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-5400
Pediatric Cardiology (801) 662-5400

Kimberly M. Molina, M.D.

Kimberly Molina, MD is a member of the division of Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Primary Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Molina is a general cardiologist who sees children with all forms of heart disease, and specializes in seeing patients with heart failure and cardiomyop... Read More

Specialties:

Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant, Pediatric Cardiology

Locations:

Pediatric Cardiology (801) 662-5400

Jack H. Morshedzadeh, M.D.

Jack Morshedzadeh. M.D., has appointments in the Division of Cardiology and in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He serves as the Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Medicine Unit and Cardiac Critical Care Unit. He is also the Director of the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program. He... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Preventive Cardiology, Valvular Heart Disease

Locations:

Redwood Health Center (801) 213-9990
University Hospital (801) 587-0555

David H. Odell, M.D.

Dr. Odell has clinical responsibilities at hospitals within the University of Utah system and also the George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center in Salt Lake City. His clinical duties include membership on the Cardiothoracic Anesthesia teams at the University and the VA. This includes providing anesthesia for all typ... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-6393

Jeffrey D. Olpin, M.D.

Jeffrey Dee Olpin, MD, is an associate professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He is a member of the Abdominal Imaging faculty with an emphasis on gastrointestinal, genitourinary and cardiac imaging. His specific interests include prostate imaging and MR imaging of the gastrointesti... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, GYN Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-8170

Theophilus Owan, M.D.

Dr. Owan is appointed to faculty as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. His primary clinical affiliation is with general cardiology and secondarily with interventional cardiology. Dr Owan’s General Cardiology activities involve outpatient, and inpatient services including diagnostic ech... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Hypertension, Interventional Cardiology

Locations:

San Juan Clinic (435) 587-5054
South Jordan Health Center (801) 585-7676
University Hospital (801) 585-2341

Peter C. Pelegrin, M.D.

Dr. Pelegrin has a special interest in cardiac anesthesia, and special expertise in echocardiography. He is a level 3 trained echocardiographer.... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Cardiothoracic Anesthesia, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Maryam Rezvani, M.D.

Dr. Rezvani is a board certified radiologist by the American Board of Radiology. She is fellowship trained in Body Imaging and Cardiac Imaging.... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Breast Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, GYN Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Mammography, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Akram Shaaban, M.B.B.Ch.

Dr. Shaaban is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology. He completed his residency training at the University of Utah. He is fellowship trained in Body Imaging. He is board certified by the American Board of Radiology.... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, GYN Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Daniel N. Sommers, M.D.

Daniel Sommers, MD, practices Body Imaging and Cardiothoracic Imaging. Current areas of research and study include Cardiac imaging and post procedural radiographic findings related to cardiac interventions and procedures.... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, GYN Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Radiology, Thoracic Imaging, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Daniel P. Vezina, M.D., M.Sc., FRCPC

Associate Professor of Anesthesiology (Clinical track)
Associate Professor of internal Medicine, Division of cardiology (Adjunct)
Director of the VA SLC Echocardiography Laboratory... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7715

Jerry D. Walker, M.D.

Jerry D. Walker, M.D., has appointments in both Division of Cardiology and the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He has been on faculty since 2010 and oversees the University Redwood Cardiology Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah and has developed the University Cardiology Practice... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine

Locations:

Huntsman Cancer Hospital
Cardiovascular Clinic (307) 362-3711
Redwood Health Center (801) 213-9990

Kevin J. Whitehead, M.D.

Kevin Whitehead, MD is an Associate Professor of Cardiology at the University of Utah, and also has privileges at Primary Children's Medical Center. He cares for adults with congenital heart disease, heart disease in pregnancy, and other patients with cardiac complications of genetic diseases (such as muscular ... Read More

Specialties:

Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Cardiology, Echocardiography, Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 213-2033
University Hospital (801) 587-0555
University Hospital (801) 581-8188

Brent D. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D.

Brent D. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., has appointments in the Division of Cardiology and in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He serves as Director of the Cardiovascular Center, Director of the Echocardiography Laboratory, and Director of Cardiology Clinical services. He has been on faculty at the U... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Valvular Heart Disease

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-0555

Clinical Trials

  • PARAGON
    Keywords: Heart Failure, HFpEF, Structural Heart Disease
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Regadenoson in stress MRI
    Keywords: stress MRI, coronary artery disease, adenosine, regedenoson
    Status: Enrolling by invitation
  • OPTISON
    Keywords: Echocardiography, Left atrial thrombus
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • OPTISON
    Keywords: Echocardiography, Left atrial thrombus
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • NEAT HFpEF
    Keywords: Heart Failure, Preserved Ejection Fraction, HFpEF, Nitrates, Activity Tolerance
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • RESTAGE - HF
    Keywords: Heart Failure, LVAD, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Heart Recovery
    Status: Not yet recruiting