Electron-Beam Computed Tomography
(EBCT; Ultrafast CT)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Cardiac CT for calcium scoring. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/ct_calscoring. 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.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated: 9/1/2021
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