Before you get a CT scan, here’s what you should know.

What Is a Computed Tomography (CT) Scan?

ct scan resultsA computed tomography scan, more commonly referred to as CT or CAT scans, is medical imaging formed through a series of X-ray views taken from different angles, allowing for three-dimensional representations of bodily structures. The images produced enable doctors to look inside your body, similar to looking at the inside of a loaf of bread by slicing it. The special X-ray images are of the slices of bodily structures that doctors are interested in examining more closely. At Health Images, our CT scanner produces spiral slices, which is the latest and fastest CT scan technology available.

CT scans are frequently used to evaluate the brain, spine, neck, abdomen and chest, providing clear images of both soft and hard tissue.

The pictures produced by a CT scan allow doctors to make medical decisions very quickly if need be. Because of this, CT exams are one of the most commonly performed medical procedures in both hospitals and imaging centers. These scans help doctors find diseases and injuries that previously could only be found through surgery or an autopsy. Although it uses low dose radiation, CT scans are relatively safe and non-invasive.

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Uses for CT Scans

CT ScansCT scans are useful in many different medical situations in which diagnostic imagery is needed. They can evaluate subtle abnormalities in your soft tissue, such as the brain or other organs. These images are also used when you have specific symptoms like pain or dizziness. They can even be helpful in examining the spread of diseases like cancer.

Depending on where the CT scan is directed in your body, there are a variety of uses:

  • Head or Brain CT Scans: Look for masses, stroke, bleeds and other abnormalities, as well as examine the skull
  • Neck CT Scans: Study lumps and look for enlarged lymph nodes or glands
  • Chest CT Scans: Offer further insight into abnormalities caught by a regular chest X-ray
  • Abdominal or Pelvic CT Scans: Check the organs found in this region and diagnose unexplained abdominal pain
  • Sinus CT Scans: Diagnose and detect sinus disease or obstructions
  • Spine CT Scans: Detect spine issues like narrowing of the spinal canal or a herniated disc, as well as fractures

Types of CT Scans

At Health Images, we specialize in various types of CT scans, including:

  • Computerized Axial Tomography: Also referred to as a CT or CAT scan, this is a computerized X-ray procedure that provides a three-dimensional scan of your brain or other parts of your body. It’s commonly used to find irregularities, disease or internal damage, but can also help guide surgeons during complicated operations. During a CT scan, you must lay on your back as your body moves through a tube. The entire procedure usually takes 30 minutes or less.
  • CT Angiography: This minimally invasive medical test helps doctors diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions. Frequently, a contrast dye is injected through an IV during the CT scan to produce detailed images of your blood vessels and tissues. A CT angiogram helps us determine if a blood vessel is blocked. If it is blocked, the images then allow us to find where the blockage is, as well as how big it is. It also helps us identify aneurysms or plaque buildup. CT angiograms are less invasive than standard angiograms.
  • CT Urography: A urography is a specialized radiological exam that focuses on evaluating the urinary tract, specifically the kidneys, ureters and bladder. It uses CT technology to produce cross-sectional images of these internal organs, which allows your physician to diagnose conditions and plan a course of action. It’s often used to detect kidney stones or evaluate patients who have blood in their urine.

CT Scan FAQ's

What is a CT Scan?

Computer Assisted Tomography (CAT), also known as CT (computerized tomography) is an x-ray technique that uses a special scanner to create cross-sectional images of the body and head. This produces “slices” like the slices in a loaf of bread. Our CT scanner performs spiral slices – the newest and fastest scanning technology available.

CT’s can image the internal portion of the organs and separate overlapping structures precisely. Unlike standard X-rays which take a picture of the whole structure being examined, CT has the ability to image that same structure one cross-section or “slice” at a time. This allows the internal body area being examined to be depicted in much greater detail than standard X-rays. CT is also able to provide clear imaging of both soft tissues, such as the brain, as well as dense tissue like bone.

Because a CT scan uses an ultra-thin, low dose X-ray beam, radiation exposure is minimized.

How will I prepare for my CT Scan?

Depending on the area of the body being imaged, you may be asked to drink a flavored mixture called contrast that will aid in the evaluation of your stomach and intestines.

Certain types of studies also require an IV contrast material, which will be administered through a vein (usually in your arm), once you are in the exam room.

If your exam requires an IV contrast material to highlight certain parts of your body, you may feel a warm sensation throughout your body and/or a metallic taste in your mouth once the IV is administered.

What will happen during the exam?

When you enter the exam room, you will be asked to lie on the CT table. The technologist will explain the procedure to you and position you on the scanning table. The table will then move to the center on the part of your body being examined. You will be able to see out both ends of the scanner, and you will be able to talk to your technologist via a two-way microphone. The table will move within the scanner during the exam. It is normal to hear whirring or clicking noises while the exam is being done.

While the exam is being done, all you need to do is relax and remain as still as possible. You may be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time.