A computerized tomography (CT) scan combines the use of X-ray images taken from different angles and uses computer processing to create “slices,” or cross-sectional images, through the body. CT scan images allow us to look at the inside of the body just as one would look at the inside of a loaf of bread by slicing it. CT scans provide more detailed information than plain X-rays.
A CT scan can be used to visualize nearly all parts of the body and is used to diagnose disease or injury to various organs.
Your doctor may order a CT scan to help:
- Diagnose muscle or bone disorders, such as bone tumors and fractures
- Pinpoint the location of a tumor, infection or blood clot
- Detect and monitor diseases and conditions such as cancer, lung nodules or liver masses
- Monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatments
- Detect internal injuries and internal bleeding
CT Scan Risks
A CT scan is a very low-risk procedure. However, during a CT scan, you’re briefly exposed to ionizing radiation. The amount of radiation is likely more than you would get during a plain X-ray. This is because the CT scan gathers much more information than a plain X-ray. CT scans have not been shown to cause long-term harm. However there may be a very small potential to increase your risk of cancer especially with prolonged, often repeated CT scans.
CT scans have many benefits that outweigh this small potential risk. At Open Imaging we have the most advanced methods for using the lowest dose of radiation possible to obtain the CT scan that your doctor has ordered.
Harm to Unborn Babies
Please inform us if you know you are pregnant or if you might be pregnant. Although the radiation from a CT scan is unlikely to injure your baby, there may be other types of exams, such as ultrasound or MRI, that could produce similar results with less risk to the fetus.
Preparing For CT Scans
Depending on which part of your body is being scanned, you may be asked to:
- Remove some or all of your clothing and put on scrubs
- Refrain from eating or drinking for a few hours before your scan
Preparing Your Child
If your infant or toddler is having a CT scan, your doctor may recommend a sedative to keep your child calm and still. In most cases, we can get the scan completed without a sedative. We prefer to attempt the scan without any medication, but if it becomes necessary, a gentle sedative is available.
During the CT Scan
During the CT scan, you will be lying comfortably on a motorized table that slides through the opening of the scanner. The test will take about 30 to 60 minutes, and most of this time will be spent getting you ready for the scan. The actual scan only takes a few seconds.
Our technologists will use pillows and sponges to make you comfortable during the scan.
While the table moves you into the scanner, detectors and the X-ray tube rotate around you. We will be talking to you in advance so that you know exactly what will happen during the scan. Once the scan begins you may hear buzzing, clicking and whirring noises. All of this is a normal part of the scan.
Our technologists are in a separate room and will be speaking with you by using an intercom system. You will be able to communicate with the technologist using the intercom. We may ask you to hold your breath at certain points during your scan to avoid blurring the images.
After the CT Scan
After the exam, you can return to your normal routine. If you were given a 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.