Computer Tomography (CT)

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CT Services

Brain Orbits Renal Stone Protocol
Sinuses Neck Cervical Spine
Facial Bones Abdomen/Pelvis Thoracic Spine
Temporal Bones Chest Extremity

What is CT scanning of the body?


Computer Tomography (CT), sometimes called CAT scan, uses special x-ray equipment to obtain image data from different body angles then uses computer processing of the information to show a cross-section of body tissues and organs. CT imaging is particularly useful in showing several types of tissue such as lung, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels, with great clarity. It enables radiologists to easily diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Because it provides detailed, cross-sectional views of all types of tissue, CT is one of the best tools in studying the chest and abdomen. It is the preferred method for diagnosing many different cancers, including lung, liver, and pancreatic cancer. The image allows a physician to confirm the presence of a tumor, measure its size, precise location, and the extent of the tumor's involvement with other nearby tissue. CT examinations are often used to plan and properly administer radiation treatment for tumors, to guide biopsies and other minimally invasive procedures, to plan surgeries, and determine surgical respectability. CTs clearly show the smallest bones as well as surrounding tissue such as muscle and blood vessels. This makes it invaluable in diagnosing and treating spinal problems and injuries to the hands, feet, and other skeletal structures. CT images can also be used to measure mineral bone density for the detection of osteoporosis. In trauma cases CT can quickly identify injuries to the liver, spleen, kidneys, or other internal organs. CT can also play a significant role in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of vascular diseases that can lead to stroke, kidney failure, or even death.

How should I prepare for the CAT Scan?

Wear comfortable loose fitting clothing. Metal objects can affect the image. Avoid clothing with zippers and snaps. Remove hairpins jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and any removable dental work. Depending on the part of the body being scanned, eating or drinking anything for one or more hours before the exam may be prohibited. Women should always inform their doctor or technologist of the possibility of being pregnant.

How is the Procedure performed?

The technologist begins by positioning the patient on the CT table. Pillows may be used to support and stabilize the body in a proper position. As the study proceeds, the table will move slowly into the CT scanner. Depending on the body part being scanned, the increments of movement may be so small that they are almost undetectable. In larger increments the patient may feel the sensation of motion. A CT examination often requires the use of different contrast materials to enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels. The contrast material may be swallowed, injected through an IV directly into the blood stream or administered by enema. Prior to administering contrast, the radiologist or technologist will ask whether the patient has allergies to any medication or iodine or a history of diabetes, asthma, a heart condition, kidney problems or thyroid conditions. These conditions may indicate a higher risk of reaction to the contrast material or potential problem excreting the material from the patient's system after the exam. A CT examination varies from five minutes to half an hour. After the exam, the patient may be asked to wait until the images are reviewed to determine if more images are needed.

What will I experience during the procedure?

CT scanning causes no pain. Patient preparation varies based on the part of the body being examined. Water or a positive contrast material may be swallowed to allow the radiologist to better view the stomach, small bowel and colon. Some patients find the taste of the contrast material mildly unpleasant, but most can easily tolerate it. For enema administration you may experience a sensation of abdominal fullness and an increasing need to expel the liquid. Be patient; the mild discomfort will not last long. To better define the blood vessels and kidneys and to accentuate the appearance between normal and abnormal tissue in organs a contrast material is injected into the vein.  Some people report feeling flushed or a metallic taste in the back of their mouth. Side effects usually disappear within a minute or two. Others experience a mild itching sensation. If it persists or is accompanied by hives (small bumps on the skin), it can be easily treated with OTC medication. In rarer cases, a patient may become short of breath or experience swelling in the throat or other parts of the body. These can be indications of a more serious reaction to the contrast material that should be treated promptly. Advise the technologist IMMEDIATELY if you experience these symptoms. Fortunately, with the safety of the newest contrast materials, these adverse effects are very rare. You will be alone in the room during the scan; however, the technologist can see, hear and speak with you at all times. For pediatric patients, a parent may be allowed in the room to alleviate any fear. Accompanying parent will be required to wear a lead apron to prevent radiation exposure.


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