Skip to main content
Cardiothoracic Services

This site is best viewed with a modern browser. You appear to be using an old version of Internet Explorer.

Computed Tomography (CT)

Cardiac Computed Tomography (CT) is performed at the Churchill and John Radcliffe hospitals, as well as the nearby Nuffield Manor Hospital.

What CT involves

An iodine-containing X-ray contrast agent (dye) is injected through a cannula placed in an arm vein, and detailed X-ray pictures of the heart are acquired timed to the electrocardiogram.

The scan is usually completed in a fraction of a single heartbeat.

Before the scan it is often necessary to give a short acting beta-blocker into the arm vein and GTN spray under the tongue to improve image quality.

Cardiac CT is most often done to take pictures of the coronary arteries in people with chest pain, in whom a negative scan can rule out coronary disease with near 100 percent accuracy.

The test is also often used to provide accurate information about the structure of the heart and blood vessels in patients being considered for heart valve treatment or who have congenital heart disease.

Having a CT scan

When you arrive at the CT / MRI department, we will invite you to take a seat in the waiting area and fill in a safety questionnaire.

When it is time for your scan, one of our radiographers will show you to the scanner room, give you a hospital gown to wear, and help you up on to the scanner couch.

We will apply four ECG stickers to your chest, and connect them to the scanners via wires. We will then put a small tube into a vein in your arm.

If your heart rate is above 60, we will give you some beta-blocker medicine into your arm vein to slow it down and avoid blurring on the scan.

We may also give you a couple of puffs of GTN spray under your tongue, to open up your coronary arteries and make them easier to interpret on the scan.

We will connect the tube in your arm vein to a special injecting pump. We will then leave the scanning room.

We will ask you to hold your breath a few times while the scan is being planned. When it is time to perform the main scan, the pump will inject the contrast into your arm vein, which may make you feel hot. We will ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds while the pictures are taken.

After the scan we will disconnect the ECG and contrast pump, and help you from the scanner couch back to the waiting area.

If we have given you beta-blocker medicine, we will ask you to wait for 30 minutes before we remove the tube in your arm vein so you can go home.

We will send the result of the scan to the doctor or advanced nurse practitioner who requested it.

Our team

Consultant cardiologists

  • Dr Andrew Kelion
  • Dr Nikant Sabharwal
  • Dr Sam Dawkins
  • Dr David Holdsworth


  • Jo Belton
  • Gemma Crosbie Dawson