A CT Scan, also referred to as a CAT scan (Computerized Axial Tomography), is a computerized X-ray procedure. This provides a two-dimensional cross-sectional scan of your body and is used to find irregularities. This technology can be used to help guide surgeons when doing complicated surgeries, determine areas of internal damage, and to pinpoint where a disease, such as cancer, resides in your body.
During a CT scan you will lay flat on your back and the table will be moved through a tube. Many doctors compare the imaging procedure to looking into a loaf of bread by cutting the loaf into thin slices. Doctors can use individual images or they can be combined into a 3D image for a more complete view.
Today the CT scanner finishes a scan within a few minutes and images can be seen on a monitor almost immediately. Within several minutes, the entire collection of images can be viewed and copied. This technology is continually getting faster and more advanced.
A CT scan can be used to examine every part of your body, including:
Chest, belly, brain, pelvis, arm, leg, liver, pancreas, intestines, kidneys, bladder, adrenal glands, lungs, heart, blood vessels, bones, and the spinal cord
CT scans can be useful in many situations including:
- Motor vehicle accidents or other trauma
- Diagnose muscle and bone disorders
- Pinpoint location of a tumor, blood clot or infection
- Guide procedures such as radiation therapy, biopsy and surgery
- Detect internal injuries or internal bleeding
- Detect and monitor diseases like cancer
During a CT scan, an individual is exposed to radiation which can be harmful, especially during a pregnancy. Most doctors agree that the benefits of a CT scan far outweigh the potential risks involved. However, if you are pregnant, be sure to tell your doctor or our technologist before participating in a CT scan.
CT Scan FAQ’s
What is a CT Scan?
Computer Assisted Tomography (CT), 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 tissue, 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 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 whirling 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.
A CT Angiography is a minimally invasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat vascular conditions. Angiography uses one of three imaging technologies:
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
In many instances a contrast material is painlessly injected into a peripheral vein to produce detailed images of both blood vessels and tissues.
Key areas of the body where CT or angiography is used:
A CT angiogram can show whether a blood vessel is blocked, where the blockage is, and how big the blockage is. Physicians also use this technology to detect and identify disease and aneurysms and to determine if there is a buildup of fatty material called plaque in a blood vessel.
During a CT angiogram, you lie on a table that passes through a donut-shaped opening in the scanner. A special dye (contrast material) may be painlessly injected into your veins using an IV in your arm or hand. The contrast material is used to make the blood vessels easier to see on the scan. In some cases, if your heart is the focus of the exam, you may be given a beta-blocker to slow your heart rate during the test.
A CT angiogram is a less invasive procedure than a standard angiogram. A traditional angiogram procedure involves inserting a catheter through your artery; while with a CT angiogram exam no catheters or tubing is involved.