Multidetector Computed Tomography (MDCT) Scan at Cooper Clinic
Did you know Cooper Clinic patients who regularly get an annual exam live 13 years longer than the average male and seven years longer than the average female? Read about each of the six components of the comprehensive exam to learn why. If you haven’t seen the first three posts, get caught up!
- Medical Exam & Counseling
- Laboratory Analysis
- Cardiovascular Screening
- Multidetector Computed Tomography (MDCT) Scan
- Skin Cancer Screening
- Nutrition Consultation
Taking the cardio screening a step further, look inside at the health of your heart’s arteries with an MDCT scan. Calcification of the coronary arteries is a risk factor for developing heart disease and having a stroke.
Multidetector Computed Tomography (MDCT) Scan
An MDCT scan is an upper torso scan (between the shoulders and hip bones) that detects buildup in the heart’s arteries. The scan also evaluates the lungs and abdominal organs. Depending on the clinical history, this scan is commonly performed in men after age 40 and in women after age 50 and is repeated if clinically indicated thereafter.
Why do you need an MDCT scan? For your heart.
Among other things, the MDCT scanner can detect the presence of calcification in the coronary arteries or “CAC”. The amount of CAC is measured and converted to a score called a CAC score, also known as the Agatston score. Many studies have demonstrated that the more calcification detected, the risk of atherosclerosis in the heart arteries and the higher the risk of having future cardiovascular disease events. Learn more about CAC scores here.
Clinically significant amounts of atherosclerosis, frequently an indication for more aggressive risk factor management, is often defined by a CAC score ≥100 or a high score for someone your age and gender. A CAC score ≥400 may suggest the need for further diagnostic evaluation depending on the presence of other clinical symptoms or factors.
CAC is not uncommon in adults. A study from the National Institutes of Health evaluating CAC measured in 3,238 white adults in age groups ranging from 45 to 75 years of age found that 32 percent of women and 52.9 percent of men had some evidence of calcified plaque. CAC can even be detected in patients who are otherwise low risk when using traditional risk factors. For example, they have normal and/or cholesterol and don’t smoke.
Atherosclerosis that is not yet calcified (called “soft” plaque) is not detected by the MDCT scan. Thus, the absence of coronary calcification does not mean that the arteries are totally normal; however, the absence of CAC confers a very low risk for future cardiovascular events.
Why do you need an MDCT scan? For your lungs.
The MDCT scan is also a good tool for evaluating the presence of lung disease, specifically at early detection of lung cancers.
It is now recommended that even in the absence of worrisome symptoms (such as chronic cough), current or former smokers with significant smoking history receive low-dose CT scans to screen for lung cancer. These recommendations follow the publication of results from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) in 2011, which found reduced deaths from lung cancer among patients who received a low-dose CT screening compared with those given chest X-rays.
Chest X-rays are not recommended for lung cancer screening because they often do not demonstrate a lung cancer until it is far advanced. If you have been a longtime smoker and you have a normal chest X-ray, you should not assume that you are lung cancer free.
Combining the latest scientific technology with an unparalleled level of personal care and attention, Cooper Clinic delivers a truly unique patient experience. The MDCT scan is performed in a matter of minutes and is noninvasive. Unlike some clinics that make patients wait days or even weeks for results—results to celebrate or results that could change everything—Cooper Clinic provides all results the same day, many times within hours. That gives you time to review the information and discuss next steps with your Cooper Clinic physician.
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