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Computed tomography, more commonly known as a CT scan, is a diagnostic exam that produces multiple images of the inside of the body. CT scans are often used to diagnose cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, appendicitis, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders. CT images of internal organs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels typically provide greater detail than traditional X-rays.
What happens during a CT scan?
During the exam, you will lie on a table as the CT scan machine rotates a detector 360 degrees around your body. As X-rays pass through your body, the detector measures differences in the density of organs, bone and soft tissue. The scanner uses a powerful computer to create multiple images or image “slices” that provide very detailed information about your body. Our CT imaging generates 32 slices for more accurate diagnostic results.
In some cases, you may be given an injection or drink of iodinated contrast agent before the scan. The agent helps produce more detail in certain images. The CT scan is painless, but you may feel some mild warmth if you receive an injection.
The exam may take 15-30 minutes, depending on what scans your doctor has ordered. You can then resume your normal activities.
Preparing for a CT Scan
Your doctor will let you know if there are any special preparations you will need before the exam. If you have diabetes, you may be asked to temporarily alter your medication. Let your doctor know if you have an allergy to iodine, if you are or may be pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
Wear comfortable, loose clothing. You may need to remove jewelry, metal objects, eyeglasses or dental pieces.
Please arrive at the imaging center at least 15 minutes before your appointment to be checked in for your exam.
How is CT different from MRI?
MRI uses a strong magnet and radio waves to create high-resolution images, while CT uses X-rays. MRI and CT images provide slightly different information to doctors. Your doctor may order one or both of these tests for you.
Are there any risks?
Rarely, some people have an allergic reaction to the contrast agent. This may cause a rash, low blood pressure or even some difficulty breathing. If a strong allergic reaction occurs, it is treated as an emergency. If you are breastfeeding, ask your doctor how long you should hold off from breastfeeding after the contrast is given.
With a CT, like a standard X-ray, there is a small exposure to radiation. The radiation from a CT scan may be slightly more than from a regular X-ray, but it is very small and unlikely to cause any harm.
For more information or to make an appointment call (321) 842-5000.