A computerized tomography (CT) scan integrates a series of X-ray images drawn from different angles and uses computer system processing to produce cross-sectional images, or pieces, of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues inside your body. CT scan images offer more detailed details than plain X-rays do.
What does computed tomography show?
A CT scan has numerous uses, however is especially well-suited to rapidly examine people who may have internal injuries from car accidents or other kinds of trauma. A Computed Tomography scan can be utilized to imagine nearly all parts of the body and is used to identify disease or injury as well as to prepare medical, surgical or radiation treatment.
Your doctor might recommend a CT scan to assist:
- Diagnose muscle and bone conditions, such as bone tumors and fractures
- Pinpoint the area of a tumor, infection or embolism
- Guide procedures such as surgery, biopsy and radiation treatment
- Spot and keep track of diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung nodules and liver masses
- Screen the efficiency of certain treatments, such as cancer treatment
- Identify internal injuries and internal bleeding
What are the benefits vs. dangers?
How does computerized tomography work?
- CT scanning is painless, noninvasive and accurate.
- A major benefit of computerized tomography is its capability to image bone, soft tissue and capillary all at the exact same time.
- Unlike conventional x-rays, CT scanning provides extremely detailed pictures of numerous types of tissue as well as the lungs, bones, and blood vessels.
- CT examinations are quick and easy; in emergency situation cases, they can reveal internal injuries and bleeding rapidly enough to help save lives.
- CT has been shown to be an economical imaging tool for a wide range of medical problems.
- CT is less sensitive to patient motion than MRI.
- CT can be carried out if you have an implanted medical device of any kind, unlike MRI.
- CT imaging provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive treatments such as needle biopsies and needle goals of many areas of the body, particularly the lungs, abdominal area, hips and bones.
- A medical diagnosis determined by CT scanning may eliminate the need for exploratory surgery and medical biopsy.
- No radiation continues to be in a patient’s body after a CT examination.
- X-rays utilized in Computed Tomography scans must have no immediate side effects.
Side effects: does computed tomography use ionizing radiation?
There is no definitive proof that radiation at percentages delivered by a CT scan causes cancer. Large population research studies have revealed a slight increase in cancer from much larger amounts of radiation, such as from radiation treatment. Hence, there is constantly issue that this risk might likewise apply to the lower quantities of radiation provided by a CT examination. When a CT scan is advised by your doctor, the anticipated benefit of this test outweighs the prospective threat from radiation. You are motivated to go over the dangers versus the benefits of your CT scan with your doctor, and to check out whether alternative imaging tests might be offered to diagnose your condition.
- The efficient radiation dosage for this procedure varies. See the Safety page for more details about radiation dosage.
- Women must constantly notify their physician and x-ray or CT technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. See the Safety page for more information about pregnancy and x-rays.
- CT scanning is, in general, not recommended for pregnant women unless medically necessary due to the fact that of prospective risk to the baby in the womb.
- Producers of intravenous contrast suggest mothers should not breastfeed their babies for 24-48 hours after contrast medium is offered. However, both the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the
- European Society of Urogenital Radiology note that the readily available data recommend that it is safe to continue breastfeeding after receiving intravenous contrast. For more information please seek advice from the ACR Manual on Contrast Media and its references.
- The danger of major allergy to contrast materials that contain iodine is very uncommon, and radiology departments are fully equipped to handle them.
Due to the fact that children are more sensitive to radiation, they should have a CT exam only if it is essential for making a medical diagnosis and should not have actually repeated CT examinations unless definitely required. CT scans in children ought to constantly be done with low-dose method.
How you prepare
Depending upon which part of your body is being scanned, you might be asked to:
- Take off some or all of your clothes and use a health center dress
- Get rid of metal items, such as a belt, jewelry, dentures and spectacles, which might interfere with image outcomes
- Refrain from eating or consuming for a couple of hours before your scan
An unique dye called a contrast product is needed for some CT scans, to assist highlight the areas of your body being examined. The contrast material obstructs X-rays and appears white on images, which can help stress capillary, intestinal tracts or other structures.
Contrast material may be offered to you:
- By mouth. If your esophagus or stomach is being scanned, you may need to swallow a liquid that contains contrast product. This drink may taste undesirable.
- By injection. Contrast agents can be injected through a vein in your arm to help your gallbladder, urinary tract, liver or blood vessels stick out on the images. You may experience a feeling of warmth throughout the injection or a metal taste in your mouth.
- By enema. A contrast material might be inserted in your rectum to assist visualize your intestines. This treatment can make you feel bloated and unpleasant.
Computed Tomography and Children
If your infant or young child is having a CT scan, the doctor may suggest a sedative to keep your child calm and still. Movement blurs the images and might result in unreliable outcomes. Ask your doctor ways to prepare your child.
What you can anticipate
You can have a CT scan done in a medical facility or an outpatient facility. CT scans are painless and, with more recent machines, take just a couple of minutes. The entire procedure usually takes about 30 minutes.
Throughout the Computed Tomography Scan
CT scanners are shaped like a big doughnut standing on its side. You rest on a narrow, motorized table that slides through the opening into a tunnel. Straps and pillows might be utilized to help you stay in position. During a head scan, the table might be fitted with an unique cradle that holds your head still.
While the table moves you into the scanner, detectors and the X-ray tube turn around you. Each rotation yields numerous images of thin slices of your body. You might hear buzzing, clicking and whirring sounds.
A technologist in a separate room can see and hear you. You will be able to interact with the technologist through intercom. The technologist might ask you to hold your breath at particular points to prevent blurring the images.
After the CT scan
After the exam you can go back to your typical routine. If you were given a contrast material, you might receive unique guidelines. Sometimes, you might be asked to await a brief time before delegating make sure that you feel well after the test. After the scan, you’ll likely be informed to consume great deals of fluids to assist your kidneys remove the contrast material from your body.
CT images are saved as electronic information files and are normally evaluated on a computer system screen. A radiologist translates these images and sends out a file to your doctor.