Computed Tomography, or a CT Scan, provides your physician with detailed information related to your health status. We are committed to making your imaging experience as comfortable as possible, and achieve this with friendly care in a welcoming environment.
What is a CT Scan?
A CT scan is a specialized imaging technique used to detect various conditions and diseases. This painless process involves x-ray equipment and may also involve contrast.
Am I a Candidate for a CT Scan?
There are several indications for CT scan imaging in patients of all ages. CT scans can be performed for many reasons, such as, assessing physical trauma after an automobile accident or other event. It may also be performed on an emergency basis to confirm or rule out internal bleeding, or to explore the potential cause of sudden, acute symptoms such as difficulty breathing or chest pain.
Additional reasons that CT scanning may be scheduled by your physician include the evaluation of:
- Kidney tumors or stones
- Lymphoma and other cancers (CT can confirm the presence and also measure size and location)
- Vascular disease that may precede kidney failure, stroke, or other events.
- Bowel inflammation
- Cystic fibrosis
- Bone density, osteoporosis
Computed Tomography can also be used as a guiding or planning tool for necessary surgical procedures.
Preparing for a CT Scan
The preparatory measured recommended prior to CT screening may be adjusted depending on the particulars of your test, such as the area of the body we are observing. General preparations include:
Prior to CT Screening:
• Speak with your doctor about current medications, especially if your CT will include contrast media.
• Inform your doctor if you think you may be pregnant.
• Notify your doctor if you have had an adverse reaction to contrast media in the past.
• Discuss any recent health events, such as illness, with your doctor prior to your scheduled CT scan.
• Make sure your doctor is aware of any health conditions, including allergies and asthma, heart or kidney disease, etc. The presence of such conditions could increase the risk of adverse reaction if your CT involves contrast agents.
Day of CT Screening:
• Do not eat or drink within the few hours prior to your appointment.
• Wear comfortable clothing to your screening.
• Leave jewelry at home, or remove prior to your CT.
• Remove any metal objects, such as eyeglasses, metal-framed dentures, or other accessories.
How is a CT Scan Performed?
CT scans are performed with the patient lying on a table. Correct position is necessary to obtain the various views required. We may ensure this with the use of pillows. Contrast material, if used, can be administered prior to or during the scan. Administration may be given orally or via IV injection.
To capture images, the exam table moves through the scanner, which is similar to a large donut. Several passes through the machine may occur. The patient may be asked to hold his/her breath in order to enhance image quality. Any movement can detract from the high-resolution of the image.
The entire procedure is typically completed within 30 minutes. Before ending the session the technologist will confirm that the images obtained are sufficient for accurate interpretation.
Preparation may be required for your exam. Please contact our facility to inquire.
What are Contrast Agents?
Contrast agents, or contrast materials, are fluids that are introduced into the body in order to improve the outcome of CT imaging (or other methods of imaging). These agents affect the way that an imaging technique interacts with the body; they do not “dye” internal organs. The way contrast agents work is by altering the appearance of certain tissues or bodily structures in images. These structures may be organs, tissues, or blood vessels. Ultimately, the use of contrast media enhances the observation of a particular area of the body, which facilitates an accurate diagnosis. Contrast media may be administered orally, by enema, or through IV injection.
Common types of contrast agents used in CT imaging include barium-sulfate compounds and iodine-based compounds. The type of contrast material that is selected is based on the area of the body needing observation. For example, oral barium-sulfate contrast is commonly used when a CT is needed of the esophagus, stomach, or intestine.
Contrast agents are routinely used in radiology, and are generally well-tolerated. Risks of adverse reaction do exist, though they are rare, and our team is trained and equipped to manage them if they do occur.
CT Scan vs X-Ray
CT scanning uses X-ray emitting equipment to produce more detailed images than plain X-ray alone. During an X-ray, slight radiation passes through the body. On film (or digitally), hard tissue such as bone appears white. Organs and soft tissue are shades of gray. The view is two-dimensional.
CT scanning also captures a two-dimensional image. However, it does so by rotating the X-ray tube around the body in a spiraled path. The volume of data is larger and is processed by computer software to develop cross-sectional “slices” of image. The result is a high-quality internal image that can be processed into 3D representation.
CT Scan Risks
CT imaging provides detailed information to physicians and can be an important part of diagnosis and recovery. Possible risks include:
- Radiation Exposure – Like x-rays, CT imaging is performed only when it is warranted to observe internal structures that would otherwise only be visible with exploratory surgery. There is a small amount of ionizing radiation that is directed at part of the body.
- Contrast material – The most common risk associated with contrast material is an allergic reaction. If you have experienced an allergic reaction to contrast material in the past, it is important that your doctor and GO Imaging are made aware.
- Pregnant women – It is GO Imaging’s policy to not scan pregnant patients. GO Imaging will offer other imaging services to accommodate pregnant patients.
CT Scan Results
Typically, results are provided to ordering physicians within a few days.
What does a CT Scan Observe?
Radiation in CT Scans vs MRI, X-Ray
The radiation exposure that takes place during CT scanning is somewhat higher than traditional x-rays. GO Imaging in Humble has recently purchased one of the few ultra low- dose CT scanners in the area which can reduce radiation by as much as 74%. MRI imaging does not use radiation to capture images, but is not without risk for individuals with metal implants of any type.