Computed tomography (CAT) is the first test to give doctors a truly three-dimensional picture of how a patient's coronary arteries run along the surface of the heart. This noninvasive test is the latest advance in the effort to map blockages in coronary arteries.
CAT scans refer to a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce both horizontal and vertical cross-sectional images (often called slices) of the body. They provide greater advantages to doctors than other noninvasive procedures.
A stress echo test allows the cardiologist to make an educated guess about the existence of a blocked artery, based on how the heart responds to exercise. When a block is suspected, cardiologists generally recommend that patients receive an angiogram, an invasive test that probes the coronary arteries. CAT angiography, however, is a noninvasive alternative that can give cardiologists a clear picture of the actual block. It is hoped that this cutting-edge improvement may reduce the number of patients who need invasive testing like an angiogram.