CT Scan without dye: Hi all, I'm new... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

21,434 members14,526 posts

CT Scan without dye


Hi all,

I'm new here, i ended up seeing a cardiologist as my heart rate is quite high and sometimes I have a dull pain on my chest, mostly when i am stressed.

When I saw the cardiologist she ordered a CT scan for me, she said within 3 weeks I should expect an appointment. Well, 3 weeks became 11 weeks unfortunately.

Anyway, In my information letter it said they would first do a CT scan without dye and after the radiologist checked those images they would do a CT scan with dye.

Yesterday I had the CT scan, after the first round i had to wait on the bed for around 5 minutes, the nurse came back in and said they have all the information they need and they won't do the CT scan with dye, I can go home now.

I was a bit surprised as how can they see if i have any blocked arteries without the dye? I remember reading about calcium and if it's too high they can't use the dye. I asked her about it and she said there was some calcium but then again, lots of people have calcium she said.

A full report will be send to the cardiologist and they will decide if i need more tests, she mentioned the angiogram but said it's 50/50 , you might have no test or you might have another test.

Well, this hasn't reassured me at all. I find it all so stressful, they just send you away without any good information. Off course I have read now on this website that i might have a really high calcium score, but then again i might not, but then i ask myself, why did they not continue with the CT scan with dye? The only reason I can think of is the high calcium score.

All these questions drive me mad. I just would like some answers. But no idea how long i have to wait and what i am waiting for.

Thank you for reading.

4 Replies
MichaelJHHeart Star

A CT scan without the dye generates (as you say) a Calcium Score. Fatty deposits can calcify (I do not understand this mechanism as yet - a friends wife needed valve surgery after deposits calcified). In my case they have calcified to the extent where a bypass rather than stenting is needed. If it is felt that enough has been found out they would not do a scan with dye as the dye caries a minute degree of risk and would not be administered just for the sake of it. It really is a case of waiting for the next appointment. I had over four months of tests before I really knew what was going on, and it is incredibly frustrating.

Jacoba in reply to MichaelJH

Thank you for your reply!

Emily_BHFBHF Nurse

Hi Jacoba,

I am sorry to hear that you are going through this difficult time and the waiting you are having to do. The main reason for people having problems using the contrast dye is patients with kidney problems or allergies, but this would have been discussed with you.

The reason that some CT scans are done with and without contrast is because there are lesions that are known to "enhance" with contrast, meaning that they will show an increase in density on the imaging study with contrast administration. It is not possible to know whether enhancement has occurred unless there is a non-contrasted CT scan to compare this with in some cases. Although only your doctor would be able to explain this.

Unless you have been told you have a high CT score, I would not think of this at this stage. A moderate or high score isn’t that useful. Sometimes moderate or high calcium plaques don’t cause problems and there’s no evidence that treating people with these scores has any benefit. In a nutshell, a CT calcium score is useful when the doctor can’t explain what’s causing the symptoms but thinks you’re unlikely to have coronary heart disease.

I would recommend discussing your concerns with your doctor and be reassured that you will have a much better understanding when you meet with your cardiologist.

You may also wish to speak to a cardiac nurse on 0300 330 3311 (calls are a similar cost to 01 or 02 numbers). The Heart Helpline is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Take care,


Jacoba in reply to Emily_BHF

Thank you for your reply. I haven't heard anything yet from the hospital or cardiologist. I understand what you wrote, and understand why they do a Ct scan with and without contrast, but I still do not understand why they stopped after the first scan and said they had enough information.

Could it be because I had a really high heart rate with the first scan? I saw on the monitor that my heart rate was a constant of 105 bpm. The nurse told me that if i have the CT scan with dye they would have to give me a lot of beta blockers as I had such a high heart rate.

I do not have a kidney problem or any allergies. so that can't be the problem.

All this waiting isn't really good for my heart, it's now raised most of the time as i'm getting quite anxious and i find it very difficult to relax.

You may also like...