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Peripheral Computed Tomography Angiography

Peripheral Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA) is a non-invasive imaging technique that used for the evaluation of vascular conditions beyond the heart. This advanced medical imaging technology utilizes X-rays and computer technology to create detailed images of the blood vessels in the peripheral areas of the body, including the arms, legs, abdomen, and pelvis.

What is Peripheral Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)?

Peripheral CTA is a sophisticated imaging modality that provides detailed images of both arteries and veins in the extremities. It is a valuable tool for diagnosing a wide range of peripheral vascular conditions, including:


  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
    PAD is a common condition that affects the arteries in the legs and feet. It can cause narrowing or blockage of the arteries, which can reduce blood flow and lead to a variety of symptoms, such as claudication (leg pain when walking), critical limb ischemia (severe pain and tissue damage in the legs or feet), and even amputation. Peripheral CTA can accurately identify the location and severity of arterial blockages, guiding physicians in developing effective treatment strategies.

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
    DVT is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein, typically in the leg. DVT can be a serious condition, as blood clots can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. Peripheral CTA can quickly and accurately diagnose DVT, allowing for timely treatment to prevent complications.

  • Aneurysms and Vascular Malformations
    Aneurysms are abnormal bulges in the walls of arteries. Vascular malformations are tangled or misshapen blood vessels. Both conditions can rupture, leading to life-threatening bleeding. Peripheral CTA can detect aneurysms and vascular malformations at an early stage, when they are most treatable.

  • Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
    PVD is a broad term that encompasses a range of vascular conditions affecting the arteries and veins in the periphery. Peripheral CTA can provide a comprehensive view of the vascular network, allowing for a precise evaluation of the extent and nature of the disease. This information is essential for formulating the most effective treatment plan.

  • Vascular Trauma
    In cases of trauma or injury to the peripheral vessels, Peripheral CTA can rapidly and accurately assess the extent of the damage. This information is essential for guiding timely interventions to prevent complications and promote optimal recovery.
  • Evaluation of Bypass Grafts and Stents
    Patients who have undergone vascular interventions like bypass grafts or stent placements may undergo Peripheral CTA for routine evaluation. This can help to assess the patency and functionality of these interventions, ensuring ongoing vascular health.

Other Benefits of Peripheral CTA

Peripheral CTA is not only a powerful diagnostic tool, but it can also empower precision medicine by providing detailed insights that guide personalized treatment plans. Althpugh it is a non-invasive procedure, it does involve exposure to radiation. The amount of radiation exposure is relatively low, but your doctor will weigh the risks and assess if it can be helpful for diagnostics and/or any of the following:

  • Evaluate severity and location of peripheral artery disease to determine optimal treatment such as medication, lifestyle changes, angioplasty, or bypass surgery based on extent of blockages.

  • Aid in selecting the most appropriate location for stent placement by precisely locating narrowed or blocked arteries.

  • Track deep vein thrombosis resolution in response to anticoagulation therapy to ensure the blood clot has dissolved.
  • Identify the location and rate of expansion of aneurysms and vascular malformations to customize treatment and monitoring approaches.

  • Assess success of vascular trauma repair by evaluating blood flow restoration.

  • Check bypass grafts and stents over time to confirm ongoing patency and functionality, guiding decisions around revision or new procedures.

What to Expect Before, During, and After Peripheral CTA

For a peripheral CTA scan, an IV is inserted into the arm to administer a contrast dye into the bloodstream. The patient lies still on a table inside a CT scanner which rotates around the body and takes multiple cross-sectional X-ray images.

The contrast dye illuminates the blood vessels as it flows through, creating clear angiographic images. Computerized reconstructions generate 3D models of vessel branches and highlight any blockages, narrowing, or aneurysms. Areas scanned can include blood vessels in the brain, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, arms, or legs based on the clinical need. The exam typically takes 30-60 minutes. 

After the procedure, you will be able to go home immediately. You may experience some soreness or bruising at the injection site, but this is usually mild and temporary. Here are a few things to keep in mind after the procedure:

  • The IV line will be removed and the injection site bandaged.
  • You will be monitored for any potential allergic reactions to contrast material.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help flush the contrast dye from your system.
  • Results will be analyzed by the radiologist and shared with your doctor to discuss treatment options.

Am I a Candidate for Peripheral Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)

Peripheral CTA is a powerful diagnostic tool, but it is not appropriate for everyone. Here are some factors that your doctor will consider when determining if you are a good candidate for Peripheral CTA:

  • Medical history
    Your doctor will review your medical history, including any allergies you have, any medications you are taking, and any other medical conditions you have. Peripheral CTA is not recommended for people with certain medical conditions, such as severe kidney disease or a shellfish allergy.

  • Risk factors for peripheral vascular disease
    Peripheral CTA is often used to diagnose and manage peripheral vascular disease (PVD). If you have risk factors for PVD, such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, you may be a candidate for Peripheral CTA.

  • Symptoms of peripheral vascular disease
    If you are experiencing symptoms of PVD, such as leg pain when walking, claudication, or critical limb ischemia, Peripheral CTA may be used to diagnose the underlying cause and guide treatment decisions.

  • Other Imaging Tests
    Peripheral CTA is often used in conjunction with other imaging tests, such as ultrasound or angiography. If you have already had other imaging tests, your doctor will consider the results of those tests when deciding if Peripheral CTA is necessary.

Find Out What's Causing Your Symptoms With Peripheral CTA

If you have concerning symptoms like leg pain while walking, high blood pressure not controlled by medications, or known vascular conditions requiring monitoring, peripheral CTA can provide answers. Beyond diagnosis, peripheral CTA guides tailored treatment plans. Don't continue struggling with unresolved vascular symptoms - get clarity with peripheral CTA. Request an appointment with our cardiovascular experts today.


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