CT (Computed Tomography) scan
A CT (Computed Tomography) scan, often called a CT scan, is a type of medical imaging examination that produces detailed images of the body using X-rays and computer technology. These images can provide detailed information about the structure and function of internal organs, bones, and other tissues, which can help diagnose and treat many conditions.
A computed tomography (CT) scan can be used to detect diseases and injuries. It creates a 3D image of soft tissues and bones using a series of X-rays and a computer. CT scanning is a noninvasive, painless technique healthcare professionals use to diagnose health problems. A CT scan may be performed at a hospital or imaging center.
What is the CT (Computed Tomography) scan used for?
CT (Computed Tomography) scans are used for various medical purposes. Some of the most common uses of CT scans include:
Diagnosing medical conditions
CT scans can be used to diagnose various medical conditions, including cancers, blood clots, lung problems, and abdominal and pelvic problems.
CT scans can be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for various medical conditions. For example, they can be used to monitor the progression of cancer or to see if a blood clot has dissolved after treatment.
CT scans can be used to evaluate injuries, such as head injuries,broken bones, or other internal injuries. They can provide detailed images of the extent of the injury and help guide treatment.
Planning for surgery
CT scans can be used to plan for surgery, such as orthopedic procedures, by providing detailed images of the affected area.
Screening for disease
CT scans can also be used for screening purposes, such as lung cancer screening for high-risk individuals or to detect certain conditions before symptoms appear.
What happens during a CT scan?
The CT procedure usually takes around 30 minutes to an hour. Here is a step-by-step explanation of what happens during a CT scan:
You will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other items that could interfere with the images and may be asked to wear a hospital gown.
You have to lie on the table and be positioned in the center of the machine. You may need to hold still or be positioned in different ways to get different images.
The table will move through the circular machine, and X-rays will be taken from multiple angles. A computer uses the data collected to provide detailed images of the body's internal structures.
Will I need to do anything to prepare for the CT scan?
Yes, there are usually a few steps you'll need to take to prepare for a CT (computed tomography) scan. Preparation can vary depending on the type of CT scan you're having, but here are some general guidelines:
Fast before the test
Depending on the type of CT scan, you may be asked to fast before the test. This is because contrast material may be used during the scan, and fasting can help prevent any adverse reactions. The doctor will provide specific instructions based on the case.
Inform the radiologist of any allergies
If you have any allergies or have had a reaction to contrast material in the past, it's essential to inform the radiologist. They may need to take special precautions or use a different contrast material.
Inform the radiologist of any health conditions
If you have any health conditions, such as kidney problems. They may need to take special precautions or use a different contrast material.
The doctor can provide specific instructions and answer any questions you may have about the CT scan.
How long does the test take?
A CT scan may usually take about an hour. Most of that time is spent on preparation, and the scan takes between 10 and 30 minutes to complete. In general, one can continue regular activities after a healthcare expert says it is safe to do so, usually after the scan has been completed and clear images have been verified.
What do the results mean?
The results of a CT (computed tomography) scan provide detailed images of the internal structures of the body, including the organs, bones, and tissues. These images are used to diagnose various medical conditions, including injuries, infections, tumors, and other abnormalities.
Some common conditions that can be diagnosed using CT scan results include:
Tumors or masses
CT scans can detect the presence of a mass or tumor in the body and determine its size and location.
Abnormalities in the blood vessels
CT scans can help diagnose blood clots, blockages,aneurysms, and other abnormalities in the blood vessels.
CT scans can detect bone fractures, including minor fractures that may not be visible on other imaging tests.
CT scans can be used to diagnose internal injuries, such as those to the organs or tissues, following a trauma or accident.
Is there additional information I need to know about a CT scan?
Yes, there is additional information that you may want to know about CT (computed Tomography) scans:
Use of contrast material
Some CT scans require the use of contrast material, which is a special dye that is injected into your body to help highlight certain structures and organs on the CT images. If contrast material is used, you may experience side effects, such as nausea, headache, or a warm feeling.
Metal in the body
If you have metal in the body, such as a pacemaker, artificial joints, or surgical clips, you should inform the radiologist before the CT scan. Metal can interfere with the CT images and make them harder to interpret. Also remove all piercings, all jewelry and leave all the valuables at home.
CT scans are not the only type of imaging test that can be used to diagnose medical conditions. Other tests, such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or ultrasound, may be used instead of or in addition to a CT scan, depending on the case.
There is additional information you may want to know about CT scans, including potential risks, the use of contrast material, metal in the body, pregnancy, cost, and alternative tests. It's important to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your doctor before having a CT scan.