Computerized Tomography (CT)
Computerized Tomography (CT) scanning is an imaging technique that uses x-rays to make images of your body. These images are viewed in a cross sectional way. Because of this, CT images are typically referred to as “slices” that allow the radiologists to view inside the body. These slices show healthy and diseased tissues inside the head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities. There are two types of CT scans. One uses contrast agents, which make certain parts of the body show up on the CT scan, while the other uses no contrast at all.
AT SSR, CT scans are typically used to study:
- Abdomen and Pelvis
- Head (sinuses, facial bones/temporal bones)
- Soft Tissue Neck
Preparing for a CT scan depends on what part of the body is being imaged. You may be asked to remove any metal objects that may interfere with the scan (such as dentures, hairpins or jewelry) as well as wear comfortable metal-free clothing.
In general, patients receiving contrast will require more patient preparation that those patients receiving no contrast. The contrast agent is either consumed orally or injected directly into the patients’ blood stream, or both depending on the procedure. For example, most scans of the abdomen and pelvis require patients to drink a contrast agent that allows their stomach and intestines to show up, as well as an injection of “x-ray dye” through an IV. Patients who require an oral contrast agent will be asked to pick this up prior to their appointment.
For scans of the neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis, an intravenous contrast agent, also called x-ray dye, is injected. When patients are given this x-ray dye, they may experience a strange smell and/or taste. Often times, this contrast makes patients feel warm in their neck, abdomen and extremities, and give them the sensation that they are going to urinate. These sensations can last approximately two minutes, and are nothing to worry about.
Please telephone SSR as soon as you are aware of your appointment to be given detailed exam instructions.
Be sure to let us know if you:
- have any allergies, particularly a reaction to contrast material in the past
- have any kidney problems
- are pregnant or breast feeding
- are diabetic and taking prescribed medications
Prior to the exam, it is important that you inform the technologist of any medications you are taking, as well as any allergies you have. In addition, inform the technologist of any history of heart disease, asthma, kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid problems or pregnancy.
For the exam, you will lie on a padded table to be slid into the CT scanner, which looks similar to a large ring. As you lie still, the x-ray emitter and detectors will spin around you gathering information. This information is then used by the computer to make slice images, which are digitally archived for review by our Radiologists on a computer workstation. No pain is caused by this scan, although some patients find it uncomfortable to remain still.
Generally, CT scans will usually average ½ hour in the exam room. Patients should plan on spending at least one hour at our facility. This will allow sufficient time for registration, exam and image processing.