About CT Scans
Computed tomography (CT) is an imaging method that uses x-ray to create cross-sectional pictures of the body. Our 128 slice CT scanners provide superior image quality at remarkable speed. A CT scan that used to take three minutes can now take about 20 seconds or less. These shorter scan times allow for a more comfortable patient experience. A CT scan rapidly creates detailed pictures of the body, including the brain, chest, and the abdomen. The test may be used to:
- Study blood vessels
- Identify masses and tumors including cancer
- Guide a surgeon to the right area during a biopsy
How the test is performed
You will be asked to lie on a narrow table that slides into the center of the CT scanner. Depending on the study being done, you may need to lie on your stomach, back or side. Once inside the scanner, the machine’s x-ray beam rotates around you. Small detectors inside the scanner measure the amount of x-rays that make it through the part of the body being studied. A computer takes this information and uses it to create several individual images called slices. These images can be stored, viewed on a monitor, or printed on film. Three-dimensional models of organs can be created by stacking the individual slices together. You must be still during the exam because movement caused blurred images. You may be told to hold your breath for short periods of time. Generally, complete scans take only a few minutes.
How to prepare for the test
Certain exams require a special dye called contrast to be delivered into the body before the test starts. Contrast can highlight specific areas inside the body which creates a clearer image. Contrast may be delivered using an intravenous line (IV) that is placed in a vein in your hand or forearm. Contrast may also be given through the rectum using an enema or as a liquid that you drink before the scan. When you actually drink the contrast depends on the type of exam being done. The contrast eventually passes out of your body through your stools. If contrast is used, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything for 4-6 hours before the test. Since x-ray have difficulty passing through metal, you will be asked to remove jewelry and wear a hospital gown during the study.
How the test will feel
The x-rays are painless. Some people may have discomfort from lying on the table. Contrast given through an IC may cause a slight burning sensation, a metallic taste in the mouth and/or a warm flushing in the body. The sensations are normal and usually go away within a few seconds.
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