What is a CT Scan?
Computed Tomography or CT scan is also known as
a CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan. This is
a unique examination because it combines the use
of X-rays and a computer to produce clear, sharp
pictures within your body. The images of your body
are divided into slices, much like slices from a loaf of
bread. The radiologist is able to see bones and soft
tissues within your body using a CT scan. This
diagnostic tool provides a quicker, more accurate
diagnosis of many medical conditions that are
very difficult to detect with regular X-rays.
Regular X-ray images are produced by passing
X-ray beams directly through the body and then
capturing a single projection on a detector plate. CT
scanning uses X-rays to produce an image in a very
different way. The ring-like structure of the scanner
moves around your body, sending and receiving
X-ray beams from around the circle. The computer
takes the data and creates a visual image of each
slice of information. The radiologist is able to review
the slices of information in sequence, which creates
a two-dimensional image of the inside of your body.
Compared to standard X-rays, CT scanning has the
ability to distinguish small tissue density differences.
This makes the diagnosis of soft tissue and bone
Frequently Asked Questions
Will the CT exam hurt?
CT is a painless, non-invasive test that will not hurt.
Your exam may require that a contrast agent be given
intravenously to make your blood vessels and tissues more
visible. You will then be asked to lie still once the technologist has positioned you appropriately on the table.
How long will the exam take?
The length of your CT exam depends on which particular
study, or studies, your doctor has ordered. Most exams are
quick and painless, lasting just a few minutes. You may be
asked to arrive at the facility 15 or 30 minutes prior to
your scheduled exam time.
What is a contrast agent?
A contrast agent is a liquid substance that makes
certain tissues stand out more clearly against their
surroundings, enabling the finest details to show up on the
X-ray, improving diagnostic quality. You may be given the
contrast agent intravenously or orally. In all cases the
contrast agent will leave your body naturally within a few
hours. If your exam does require a contrast agent, be sure to
tell the technologist if you have any allergies especially
to iodine or shellfish.
Will I be alone during the exam?
During your CT exam you will be in contact with a
technologist. Even when he or she is outside the CT room
you will be able to communicate via intercom and be seen
through a window.