What is CT scanning?
Ct scanning (Computed tomography), sometimes called CAT scan, uses special x-ray equipment to obtain images from different angles around the body. A computer than processes this information to show body tissues and organs, in cross sectional views called slices.
What are the benefits of Ct Scans?
- Ct scanning is painless, non-invasive and accurate.
- CT examinations are fast and simple.
- A diagnosis made with the assistance of CT scans can often eliminate the need for invasive exploratory surgery and surgical biopsy.
- CT scanning allows detailed views of many types of tissues including the lung, bones, soft tissues and blood vessels.
What are the risks of CT scans?
- CT scanning does involve exposure to radiation, but the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk. The radiation dose from a CT scan is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in 3
- Nursing mothers should wait 24 hours after contrast materials injections before resuming breast-feeding
- Though uncommon, some people can have adverse reactions to the contrast materials.
You should talk with your doctor to learn if there are any other benefits and risks specific to your procedure.
What will the Exam be like?
You will lie comfortably on the CT exam table. Pillows to help you hold still and in the proper position may be placed under or around you. The table will move slowly into the CT scanner. You will be alone in the room but the radiologist or technologist will be in contrast communication with you. The x-ray tube often makes clicking sounds and whirring sounds as it moves around and captures images.
Depending on the exam, a contrast materials may be used to enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels. The contrast materials may be injected directed directly in to the bloodstream, swallowed, or administered by enema, depending on type of exam.
If contrast materials are used, the radiologist or technologist will ask you whether you have any allergies, especially to medications or iodine, and whether you have a history of diabetes, asthma, a heart conditions, kidney or thyroid problems. These conditions may indicate a higher risk of reaction to the contrast materials or potential problems eliminating the material from your system after the exam.
You may be asked to drink a liquid contrast material to better see the stomach, small bowel, and colon. Some find the chalky taste unpleasant but most are able to tolerate it.
If the colon is the focus of the exam, you may receive the contrast material by enema. As the contrast materials fill your colon, you may feel abdominal fullness, some minor cramping and the desire to move your bowels. These are common sensations and most patients tolerate the mild discomfort easily.
Most commonly, the contrast material is injected through a vein in your arm. You will feel a minor sting with the injection and some people feel flushed and warm and, sometimes have a metallic taste in their mouth. These are all normal reactions to contrast materials and will last no more than a minute or two. Occasionally, some people experience a slight itching sensation. If it persists or is accompanied by hives, the itch can be treated with medication. In rare instance, shortness of breath or swelling in the throat or other parts of the body may occur. Tell the radiologist or technologist immediately if you experience these symptoms.
The contrast material will be naturally eliminated within a few hours’ to a day depending on the area examined and the type of contrast material used.
A CT scan usually takes about 15 to 30minutes.
What does the equipment look like?
A CT scanner is large, square machine with a hole in the center. It has an exam table attached that can be moved up or down and forward and backward. Inside the machine is an X-ray tube that will move around your body to capture the images.
How should I prepare for the Exam?
- Wear comfortable, loose –fitting clothing for your exam. Metal objects can affect the image, so avoid clothing with zippers and snaps.
- You will be asked to remove anything metallic that might degrade the images, including hairpins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids and any removable dental work.
- For some scans your doctor may instruct you not to eat or drink for one or more hours before your exam.
- Inform your doctor of any allergies you have to foods or medications.
- Inform your doctor of any recent illnesses or medical conditions.
- Always inform your doctor and the technologist if you are pregnant or think there is a possibility you may be pregnant.
How will learn the results?
A radiologist, who is a physician specializing in CT and X-ray examinations, will study your CT scan images. This specialist will analyze your images and report the results to your doctor.
The result of your CT scan will be made available to you through your designated health care provider or practitioner.
- Inform your radiologist or the technologist if you have tattoos or permanent eyeliner, every worked with metal, or have had a bullet or shrapnel in your body, if you have a prosthetic hip, heart pacemaker, implanted port, intrauterine device (IUD) or any metal plates, pins, screws, or surgical staples in your body as this affect image quality.
- Always inform your doctor and the technologist if you are pregnant of think there is a possibility you may be pregnant.
- Inform you’re the technologist if you are sensitive to latex or other substances.
- Waite 24 hours before resuming breast feeding.