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Computed Tomography (CT)


A computed tomography, CT scan is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat and organs.

Benefits

CT scans show images of the body with great detail. It can also be a good alternative for patients with pacemakers or other implanted metal devices, who may not be good candidates for MRI.

How to Prepare

How you prepare for a CT scan depends on which part of your body is being scanned. Some CT scans require you to ingest a contrast medium before the scan. A contrast medium or agent refers to a substance take by mouth, or injected into an intravenous (IV) line that causes the particular organ or tissue under study to be seen more clearly. Contrast examinations may require you to fast for a certain period of time before the procedure. Your physician will notify you of this prior to the procedure.

The Procedure

During the CT scan the patient lays on a table that slides through the opening of a large device called the gantry. The table can be raised and lowered. Straps and pillows may help you stay in position and be as comfortable as possible. As the X-ray tube rotates around your body, the table slowly moves through the gantry. While the table is moving you may need to hold your breath to avoid blurring the images.
During this time, a technologist in a adjoining room supervises the CT scan and monitors the images as they appear on the computer screen. The technologist can see and hear you, and you can communicate via intercom.
Expect the exam to last no more than a few minutes depending on the preparation needed and whether it includes the use of contrast medium. It will be necessary for you to remain still and quiet during the procedure.

After the Procedure

After the exam you may return to your normal routine. If you were given a contrast medium, your doctor or the radiology staff may give you special instructions, such as drinking fluids to help remove the medium from your body.

Results

CT scans are recorded digitally. They can be viewed on-screen with our state-of-the-art Picture Archive Communication System (PACS) within minutes. A radiologist views and interprets the results. A report will be sent to your doctor, who then will explain the results to you.