CT Scan

Posted September 30, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read

Computed tomography (CT) scan is a useful diagnostic tool for detecting diseases and injuries. It uses a series of X-rays and a computer to produce a 3D image of soft tissues and bones.

What is a CT scan?

  • Medical professionals use computed tomography, also known as CT scan, to examine structures inside your body.

  • A CT scan uses X-rays and computers to produce images of a cross-section of your body.

  • It takes pictures that show very thin slices of your bones, muscles, organs and blood vessels so that healthcare providers can see your body in great detail.

What is a CT scan with contrast?

  • Sometimes, your scan uses a contrast agent.

  • This contrast agent, sometimes called a dye, improves the images by highlighting certain features.

  • Your healthcare provider will either have you drink a special liquid containing the contrast agent or give you an IV injection with the contrast or both depending on the type of CT scan and the reason for the scan.

  • The contrast agent is cleared from your body through your urine, first rapidly then more slowly over the next 24 hours.

What happens during the test?

During the test, you will lie on your back on a table like a bed. If your test requires it, a healthcare provider may inject the contrast dye intravenously. This dye can make you feel flushed or have a metallic taste in your mouth.

When the scan begins:

  • The bed slowly moves into the doughnut-shaped scanner. At this point, you will need to stay as still as possible because movement can create blurry images.

  • The scanner takes pictures of the area the healthcare provider needs to see. Unlike an MRI scan, a CT scan is silent.

  • When the exam is over, the table moves back out of the scanner.

Duration of CT scan

  • Typically, you should plan for an hour for a CT scan. Most of that time is for preparation.

  • The scan itself takes between 10 and 30 minutes or less.

  • Generally, you can resume your activities after a healthcare provider says it is safe to do so usually after they complete the scan and verify clear images.

What does a CT scan show?

Your healthcare provider will order a CT scan to help make a diagnosis of your health. The scan enables providers to closely examine bones, organs and other soft tissues, blood vessels and suspicious growths. Things that a CT scan can find include:

  • Certain types of cancer and benign (noncancerous) tumors.

  • Fractures (broken bones).

  • Heart disease.

  • Blood clots.

  • Bowel disorders (blockages, Crohn’s disease).

  • Brain and spinal cord diseases or injuries.

  • Internal bleeding.

Risk during pregnancy

  • If you are or might be pregnant, you should tell the CT technician.

  • CT scans of the pelvis and abdomen can subject the unborn baby to radiation, but it’s not enough to cause actual harm.

  • CT scans in other parts of the body don’t put your baby at any risk.

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