Computed Tomography (CT Scans)
Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) scan is a painless examination that gives your physician an unobstructed look at organs and structures that cannot be seen on conventional X-Rays. The scanner obtains image data from different angles around the body and uses computer processing to show a cross-section of the body tissues and organs.
A CT scan combines a sophisticated X-Ray system with a high-speed computer.
This combination produces a precise picture of the body, allowing the physician to see tissue and bone structure in fine detail. CT imaging is particularly useful because it can show several types of tissue (bone, blood vessels, lung, and soft tissue) with great clarity.
Radiologists can more easily diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, trauma, and bone disorders. CT scans are some of the best tools for studying the chest and abdomen, and for diagnosing certain cancers including lung, liver, and pancreatic.
The images allow physicians to confirm the presence of a tumor, measure its' size, precise location, and possible involvement with other tissues.
CT scans can be conducted with and without contrast depending on the need of the patient. The exams can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the area of the body, necessity of contrast, and clarity of results.
Before your scan, you may also be given a contrast agent (dye). However, you will first be asked if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a contrast agent and complete the pre-screening forms for any contrast exam.
You are then asked to take off any metal you are wearing (for example, jewelry, a belt, your watch, an underwired bra). If you wear glasses, you might be asked to remove them.
What happens during the procedure?
The CT scanner is a large cylinder with a couch in the middle of it – it looks a bit like a doughnut. Usually, you lie on your back on the couch, which moves you slowly into the scanner.
You need to lie very still while the scan pictures are taken. You might be asked to hold your breath for approximately 6 seconds during the scan. This reduces your movement and therefore blurring of the scan images.
You are alone in the scanning room during the scan itself. Staff can see you all the time through a glass window and they can talk to you. You can alert them if you feel unwell or distressed – you can ask for help or raise a hand.
Some people worry about feeling claustrophobic (closed in). However, the scanning machine does not surround your whole body at any one time and the scan is also quick (taking under than around 30 seconds), so most people find it OK. The machine is similar to a donut so you will be able to see out the other side of the cylinder.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask our staff. We'll be more than happy to answer all of your questions.