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Computed Tomography (CT)

CT Scans in Jackson Hole

A traditional CT scan is an x-ray procedure that uses special computers to display detailed images of x-rays. CT scans are very safe and come with very few risks. The images produced give radiologists a detailed view of body tissue, bone, and blood vessels. The results can not only help doctors diagnose disease, but also provide a clear view of internal injuries and the extenuating damage.

St. John's Health uses the Toshiba Aquilion ONE, the world’s first dynamic volume CT scanner. With 320 detector row coverage, the Aquilion ONE has the ability to scan an entire organ in a single rotation, meaning tests go faster and expose patients to less radiation. The Aquilion ONE reduces costs by replacing several exams with one, making this powerful diagnostic test more available to a wide variety of people.

In addition to standard CT scans, St. John’s performs specialized cardiac CT angiography scans and Calcium-score screening heart scans, which you can learn more about below.

Cardiac CT Angiography

A cardiac CT test combines advanced CT technology with intravenous (IV) contrast (dye) to visualize your cardiac anatomy, coronary circulation, and blood vessels. St. John's state-of-the-art Aquilion One CT scanner acquires high-resolution three-dimensional images of the moving heart and great vessels. With these images, a doctor can evaluate your heart muscle, arteries, veins, aorta, and other cardiovascular components.

  • Test Preparation – To prepare for the test you will need to avoid caffeinated drinks, energy and diet pills, and certain medications the day before and of the exam. Let your doctor know if you are pregnant, what medications you’re taking, and whether or not you have recently undergone radiation therapy.
  • The Test – You will not need to do much during the test. A special contrast will be administered via an IV while you lie on a table with electrodes attached to your chest. The table will slide into a tube-shaped scanner, which takes images of the areas highlighted by the contrast material in your body. The actual scan only lasts a few seconds, and the procedure as a whole will take about 45 minutes.

Once the test has ended you may return home and resume normal activities and diet. Your physician will reach out to you after the radiologist has analyzed the test results. Together you will come up with a plan for treating any heart conditions diagnosed from the test.

Calcium-Score Screening Heart Scan

Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of arteries from plaque buildup and a main contributing factor to heart disease. A calcium-score screening heart scan detects signs of coronary calcification from atherosclerosis. The higher your calcium the more serious your case of atherosclerosis, meaning you have a greater risk of suffering heart disease.

Your doctor may recommend this test if you have other risk factors for heart disease, such as a sedentary lifestyle or history of smoking. This is one of the most effective means of detecting heart disease before symptoms develop. Please be aware that while it is very effective, there are certain forms of plaque that cannot yet be detected with this technology. Do not assume that a low calcium score means you are risk-free for heart disease.

  • Test Preparation – Prior to the test, a blood lipid analysis by our specialized laboratories is recommended. This test can be obtained on the day of your exam and requires you to fast for 12 hours prior to the exam. You may take your medications as usual with sips of water.
  • CT scanners expose patients to small doses of radiation. The minimal exposure is safe for both adults and children, but a developing fetus might suffer damage and this procedure is not recommended if you are pregnant. Please inform your doctor if you have recently received radiation therapy so that they can be sure your exposure falls within safe parameters.
  • The Test – Before the test, you will fill out a brief questionnaire that contributes your doctor’s analysis of your heart disease risks. After that comes a quick series of physical tests that record your height, weight, and blood pressure. When that is finished you will be given appropriate clothing and asked to lay down on a scanning table which slides into the actual scanner. The technologist will attach three electrodes onto your chest before moving you into the scanner and having multiple images taken. A CT computer is used to synchronize images with your heartbeat.

The test only lasts a few minutes and you may resume normal activities afterward. If calcium is identified during the scan, the computer will create a calcium score that estimates the extent of coronary artery disease. Your doctor will contact you later with your calcium score, and together you can work on a plan to reduce your risk of heart disease.