Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Tests and procedures used to diagnose spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) involve creating pictures of your arteries to look for signs of abnormalities.

Injecting special dye into the affected artery

During a set of procedures called cardiac catheterization and coronary angiogram, doctors inject a special dye into your arteries so they'll show up on imaging tests. To get the dye to your arteries, doctors insert a long, thin tube (catheter) into an artery — usually in your leg or arm — and thread the tube to the arteries in the heart.

Once the dye is released, doctors use X-rays to create pictures of the arteries. The X-rays may show abnormalities in an artery that help confirm spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).

Creating images of the inside of arteries

After coronary angiogram, other tools may be inserted through the catheter and into the affected artery to create pictures. These imaging tests may include:

  • Intravascular ultrasound. A special imaging catheter may be passed into your arteries to create sound-wave pictures (ultrasound).
  • Optical coherence tomography. A catheter equipped with a special light may be passed into your arteries to create light-based pictures.

The images may show abnormalities in an artery that help doctors confirm spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) and gather information to guide treatment decisions.

Using advanced imaging to see the arteries

During a cardiac computerized tomography (CT) angiography scan, you lie on a table inside a doughnut-shaped machine. An X-ray tube inside the machine rotates around your body and collects images of your heart and chest, which can show abnormalities in your arteries. Cardiac CT angiography may be used in addition to other tests and procedures.

Oct. 09, 2014

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