CT Scan

What is a CT Scan?

A CT, or CAT Scan is very similar to an Xray in that the CAT Scan machine uses Xrays to develop 3D images of your body. CT is an abbreviation for computerized tomography. It’s a much more comprehensive test than standard Xray because it captures images of your body in “slices” from many different angles.

Why do I need to have a CT Scan?

CT Scans typically show much better bone detail similar to standard Xray. The difference in a CT scan and an Xray is that the CT Scan shows the bone detail in 3D and allows the Doctor to view thin slices of your body. Xray does not allow for viewing images in this manner.

Sometimes your Doctor may order a CTA (computed tomography angiography). This test is similar to a regular CT scan, and it is a particularly good at viewing your veins and arteries. A contrast with a small amount of iodine is injected into your body to help identify veins and arteries.

How is this test performed?

The Technologist will typically ask you to change into a hospital gown. You will then be asked to lie on a table which will move you into a large, round opening. This opening is called a “gantry”, and it is where the CT Scan machine takes pictures of your body. This procedure takes about 5 to 15 minutes to perform. It is relatively quiet and quick.

Sometimes, your Doctor may order a CT scan that requires that you be injected with a contrast material to give a better view of the area that is being tested. A small needle will be placed in a vein in your arm so that the contrast may be injected into your body.

Do I need to do anything to prepare for this test?

The Technologist will typically ask you to change into a hospital gown. In some cases, you may be asked to have lab work prior to the test. Otherwise, there are usually no special preparations required to perform this test. You should avoid wearing any jewelry or other metal objects during this test.

When will I get the results of my test?

Depending on the test that you have, it may be interpreted by a Radiologist. Typically these results will be ready the next morning. If your appointment is the same day as your test, your Physician may review the results on the same day. Otherwise, the Physician may review them with you at your next scheduled appointment.

Are there risks involved in this test?

The most common risks include a slight risk from radiation exposure and a risk that you may be sensitive to the contrast. However, the amount of radiation that you are exposed to is not nearly enough to cause any harm or permanent damage.

Contrast contains a small amount of iodine, and it may result in a metallic taste in your mouth and a feeling of warmth all over the body. On rare occasions, you may experience hives or breathing difficulty. On the rare occasion that this may happen, medications will be given to correct this reaction.

In all cases, always tell your Physician or Technologist if you have specific allergies or if you are pregnant.