CT (Computed Tomography), also called a CAT scan, is a safe and painless exam that uses x-ray technology to obtain detailed, cross-sectional images of a patient’s body. CT is often the preferred technology for diagnosing cancer and for visualizing several types of tissue with great clarity, including organs such as the liver, spleen, pancreas and kidneys.
Prohealth Advanced Imaging’s technology allows us to optimize every aspect of a patient’s CT experience. From shorter exam times and greater patient comfort, to superior image quality, this translates into a more accurate diagnosis.
The CT Procedure
Cross-sectional images are obtained by CT when a patient, who is lying on the comfortable exam table, is moved through the center of the CT scanner. A quietly rotating gantry emits a small amount of x-ray that passes through the patient’s body. The result is a thin image or “slice” that is reconstructed on a computer along with other slices to view the anatomy.
To prepare for a CT exam, a patient should plan to wear loose and comfortable clothing. Depending on the type of CT study ordered by your physician you may be instructed not to eat or drink anything for 4 hours prior to the exam. Some CT studies use either oral or IV contrast to obtain better images. Female patients should notify their physician and our staff prior to the exam, if they are pregnant.
What are some common uses of CT?
- Planning and proper administration of radiation treatments for tumors.
- Planning surgery.
- Quick identification of injuries to the liver, spleen, kidneys, spine, head, or other internal organs in cases of trauma.
Preventative Medical Screenings
- CT Screening – Abdomen: Used to detect unsuspected abnormalities of liver, kidney, gall bladder, or adrenal glands.
- CT Screening – Cardiac Scoring: Used to detect calcification/plaque and help determine risk of coronary artery disease.
- CT Screening – Lung: Formal academic studies have documented potential value in detecting lung cancer at earlier stages, when the cancer can still be surgically removed.
- CT Screening – Pelvis: Used to detect asymptomatic, unsuspected abnormalities of bowel, ovaries, prostate gland, or bladder.
What should I expect during this exam?
A CT examination usually takes between five minutes and half an hour.
- The technologist will position you on the CT table. Pillows will be used to help you keep still in the proper position during the scan. The table will move slowly into the CT scanner opening. Depending on the area of the body being examined, the increments of movement may be very small and almost undetectable or large enough to feel the motion.
- To enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels, use of different contrast materials may be required. Depending on the type of examination, these materials may be injected through an IV or swallowed. Before receiving the contrast material, you should inform the radiologist or technologist of the following:
- Any allergies, especially to medications or iodine.
- Any information regarding a history of diabetes, asthma, kidney problems, heart, or thyroid conditions. These conditions may indicate a higher risk of reaction to the contrast material or potential problems with eliminating the material from your system after the exam.
You will be alone in the room during your scan; however, you can communicate with your technologist at all times through an intercom system, and they will be able to see, hear, and speak with you throughout the entire exam.
What will I experience during this exam?
CT scanning is a painless procedure. Depending on the type of scan needed, individual preparations may differ. Here is an overview of what to expect from the different methods we use to administer contrast materials:
- Mouth: A member of our staff may ask you to drink the contrast material, a liquid that allows the radiologist to better see your stomach, small bowel, and colon. Some patients find the taste slightly unpleasant, but tolerable.
IV injection: To accentuate the difference between normal and abnormal tissue in organs, such as the liver or spleen, and to better define the blood vessels and kidneys, a contrast material is commonly injected into a vein. You may feel flushed and may have a metallic taste in your mouth, which should pass in a minute or two. In very rare cases, you may experience a mild allergic reaction.