Health Library

Electron-Beam Computed Tomography

Definition

Electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT) is a fast test to look for calcium build-up in the heart's arteries. It uses an electron gun to scan the chest.

Varying Degrees of Atherosclerosis in Coronary Arteries
Stereostatic Biopsy
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Reasons for Test

EBCT may be used to screen people for coronary artery disease (CAD). It can help assess the risk of having a heart attack in the future.

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft
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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen.

An EBCT uses radiation. It may not be advised for people with certain conditions such as pregnancy.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

Right before the test, you will be asked to remove any metal objects. This may include jewelry, hearing aids, or dentures.

Description of Test

You will lie down on a padded table under an arch shaped scanner. The scanner will move over your body and take pictures. You will hear humming and clicking. The technician will ask you to hold your breath at times. This will help get a clear picture. You will be able to talk to the technician..

After Test

You will be able to leave after the test is done.

How Long Will It Take?

About 10 to 15 minutes

Will It Hurt?

The scan should not normally hurt. Some may find it uncomfortable to stay still during the scan.

Results

The EBCT software measures the calcium deposits in the arteries. This is called the calcification score. The doctor will receive the results and discuss them with you.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have any questions about the test, your condition, or your test results.

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Resources

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America
https://www.radiologyinfo.org

Canadian Resources

Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery
https://vascular.ca

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
http://www.heartandstroke.ca

References

Cardiac CT for calcium scoring. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/ct%5Fcalscoring. Accessed September 1, 2021.

Coronary artery disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/coronary-artery-disease-cad. Accessed September 1, 2021.

Coronary calcium scan. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/coronary-calcium-scan. Accessed September 1, 2021.

Miller TD, Rodriguez-Porcel M. Your coronary calcium scan is positive: now what? JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2016;9(5):590-2.

Ultrafast CT scan. University of Rochester Medical Center website. Available at: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=92&contentid=p07987. Accessed September 1, 2021.