Is a CT Scan Detrimental to Your Health – The Facts

by | Jun 10, 2021 | CT

Reading Time: 3 minutes

There is a debate around whether CCTA (Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography) exams and CAC (Coronary Artery Calcium) scoring scans are helpful or detrimental for the patients. JAMA Internal Medicine, an international peer-reviewed online journal, released studies claiming that there were risk factors in the usage of the machines. This article will look into these studies to provide a clearer understanding of the situation.


What Are the CCTA and the CAC?

First, it is essential to know what CCTA and CAC are and how they work. 

The CCTA is the machine used to examine a person’s arteries. The arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the heart, and they can be at risk of getting narrowed sometimes. Through the CCTA, experts can easily see if something is wrong with a patient’s arteries. The exam involves the injection of iodine-containing contrast material into the patient and using the CT scanner to check the area. 

The result is series of scanned images that could be formatted into 3D images for better viewing. These could be printed out through a 3D printer. It can be transferred as electronic media, and it can explain to you what is happening in a patient’s body.

On the other hand, the CAC test has a different focus. Doctors recommend it when they need to see whether there is a buildup in your blood. This test also uses the technology of a CT scan. The process involves taking photos of the blood vessels to check if there are fats, calcium, cholesterol, and other substances building up. Learning about this could determine whether a person is at risk for heart disease even before they experience any symptoms. 

Any of these two technologies can allow doctors to identify health problems, should there be any, and prevent any complications from happening. 


The Studies about These Methods

Dr. Michael Incze of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City mentioned the potential harms of the mentioned coronary CT scans in an article he published early this year. 

According to his report, plaque and coronary calcium could rise in a patient’s blood vessels at any time, even for healthy people. And finding plaque in blood vessels does not automatically mean a patient is at risk of a heart attack. Incze believes that this test only increases worry, which could also be detrimental to their health.

He emphasized the danger of radiation exposure, dye reaction, and overtesting to the human body. According to him, these scans are invasive, especially for those who already have the disease. Radiation was linked to negative health effects, which includes an increased cancer risk for many, and, although rare, some people have a bad reaction to the chemical dye used in the process.

He also noted how these extra costs are not always covered by insurance, forcing people to spend more than they should. 

This is not the first time someone recommended against the use of CAC. In 2018, the US Preventive Services Task Force also mentioned similar things. However, the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography (SCCT) and the North American Society of Cardiovascular Imaging (NASCI) published a recommendation article encouraging CCTA for assessing plaque in blood vessels. 



The debate could go on and on, and each could present the pros and cons of the technology. Regardless of what people believe in, a CT scan is still a helpful tool in assessing people’s health. It has been a staple in healthcare and is one of the pillars of many treatments in the field.  

Should you be interested in investing in a machine, DirectMed Parts is the most trusted and knowledgeable source of CT machines and parts. We also conduct services, such as MRI coil repair. Contact us at (858) 251-8752 if you have any questions or concerns.

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