A computerized tomography (CT or CAT) scan uses computers and rotating X-ray machines and combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles around your body and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images (slices) of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues inside your body. CT scan images provide more-detailed information than normal X-rays do.
A CT scan has many uses, but it's particularly well-suited to quickly examine people who may have internal injuries from car accidents or other types of trauma. Your doctor may give you a special dye called a contrast material to help internal structures show up more clearly on the X-ray images. The contrast material blocks X-rays and appears white on the images, allowing it to highlight the intestines, blood vessels, or other structures in the area being examined. A CT scan can be used to visualize nearly all parts of the body and is used to diagnose disease or injury as well as to plan medical, surgical or radiation treatment.
A CT scan may be used to visualize the:
During a CT scan, you lie in a tunnel-like machine while the inside of the machine rotates and takes a series of X-rays from different angles. These pictures are then sent to a computer, where they’re combined to create images of slices, or cross-sections, of the body. They may also be combined to produce a 3-D image of a particular area of the body.
A CT scan has many uses, but it’s particularly well-suited for diagnosing diseases and evaluating injuries. (Drop Down) The test is minimally invasive and can be conducted quickly.
- Your doctor may recommend a CT scan to help:
- Diagnose muscle and bone disorders, such as bone tumors and fractures
- Pinpoint the location of a tumor (including cancer), masses, infection or blood clots
- Guide procedures such as surgery, biopsy and radiation therapy
- Detect and monitor diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung nodules and liver masses
- Monitor the effectiveness of certain treatments, such as cancer treatment and heart disease
- Detect internal injuries and internal bleeding
- guide procedures, such as surgeries and biopsies
- study the blood vessels and other internal structures
You can have a CT scan done in a hospital or an outpatient facility. CT scans are painless and, with newer machines, take only a few minutes. The whole process typically takes about 30 minutes.
Technology at Pardee
Our advanced technology quickly produces high-quality scans with excellent resolution while using low doses of radiation. You can be assured you’re receiving excellent care from professionals with specialized training. Additionally, Pardee offers radiation dose reduction in computed tomography by utilizing customized protocols to reduce patient dose as well as specialized CT software.
CT Scan: What to Expect
Before the Procedure
If your doctor plans on using a contrast material, they may ask you to fast for four to six hours before your CT scan.
When it comes time to have the CT scan, you’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown and to remove any metal objects. Metal can interfere with the CT scan results. These items include jewelry, glasses, and dentures. Your doctor will then ask you to lie face up on a table that slides into the CT scanner. They’ll leave the exam room and go into the control room where they can see you and hear you. You’ll be able to communicate with them via an intercom.
During the procedure
CT scans are painless, and most take only a few minutes. You’ll lie on a narrow table, which gently glides into the center of a donut-shaped CT scanner. Inside the tunnel, a ring will rotate around you, taking X-ray pictures. While the table moves you into the scanner, detectors and the X-ray tube rotate around you.
Each rotation yields several images of thin slices of your body. You may hear clicking, buzzing, and whirring noises during the scan. The table will move a few millimeters at a time until the exam is finished. You’ll be asked to lie very still and may occasionally be asked to hold your breath to avoid blurry images.
After the procedure
After the exam you can return to your normal routine. If you were given contrast material, you may receive special instructions. In some cases, you may be asked to wait for a short time before leaving to ensure that you feel well after the exam. After the scan, you'll likely be told to drink lots of fluids to help your kidneys remove the contrast material from your body.
Your CT Scan Results
Once the CT scan is over, the images are sent to a radiologist for examination. A radiologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions using imaging techniques, such as CT scans and X-rays. A radiologist will interpret your results and give a report to your doctor. Your doctor will share the results with you and discuss any necessary follow-up care.