Computed Tomography — also called CT or CAT — provides detailed cross-sectional images of the inside of your body. Through this technology, people can have a CT scan from any part of their body.
CT scans are brief, non-invasive, and painless procedures. Keep on reading to know more about what to expect during a CT scan.
How Does CT Scan Work?
CT scans are rather different from conventional x-rays. Here is how it works:
- A narrow x-ray beam aims and rotates around your body.
- A computer uses the x-ray information to create tomographic images. These series of images — taken from different angles — show a 2D “slice” of the inside of your body.
- This process is repeated until a detailed image of a specific part of your body is created. The computer generates a 3D image from stacking together the 2D slices. However, the 2D images can also be displayed individually.
What are CT scans Used for?
Both, the 3D images that can be rotated and the 2D series of slices, are incredibly helpful to see and locate the exact spot where a problem may be happening in your body.
A computed tomography scan allows doctors to see detailed pictures of:
- Organs and other tissues
- Blood vessels
Doctors may require specialized studies, like CT scans, when a conventional medical check-up is not enough to provide an accurate diagnosis. Some examples are:
- To detect or see the progression of tumors. For example, patients undergoing chemotherapy can verify if the treatment is working by looking at the tumor through images generated by a CT scan.
- To detect complex bone fractures or joint problems.
- To verify internal bleeding from the result of traumatic injuries.
- To guide doctors before they surgically remove a tumor.
- To detect different types of heart disease or anomalies like clots.
- To detect pulmonary issues (excess fluid, pneumonia, blood clots)
How is a CT Scan Done?
A CT scan is a simple and non-invasive procedure that lasts about 20 to 60 minutes. Here is what you can expect:
- Follow the indications provided by your doctor to prepare yourself for the CT Scan. Some of this might be to avoid eating or drinking for a couple of hours before the procedure, drink clear liquids, etc.
- If necessary, a contrast agent will be administered to you. Contrast agents are substances that help to get clearer pictures from CT scans of some organs. For example, organs from the circulatory system, digestive system, etc.
- Remove any metal objects and put on the hospital gown.
- Lie on the table and wait for it to slowly slide into the CT scanner.
- Follow the radiology technologist indications. Stay very still to avoid getting blurry images.
- Wait for your doctor to analyze and explain your results.
Are CT Scans Safe?
The main benefit of CT scans is that they provide an early diagnosis of possibly life-threatening conditions. An early diagnosis increases the chances for an optimal recovery. However, there are minimal risks to be aware of:
- Cancer: Although there is radiation exposure during a CT scan, the risk of cancer is small. Cancer risk is higher for children, so make sure to ask your doctor if the CT scan is adjusted for children.
- Allergies: Contrast agents used in CT scans might cause an allergic reaction.
- Chronic Illnesses: IV contrast agents should not be administered if you have certain chronic illnesses. For example, kidney failure, diabetes, heart failure, etc.
BASS Urgent Care counts with high-tech equipment and experienced radiologists to perform CT scans safely and efficiently. Let us help you.