A computed tomography or CT scan is a diagnostic procedure that can examine any area of your body to detect diseases and injuries and plan the appropriate treatment. Through computer processing, cross-sectional images (slices) of your bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues are produced during a CT scan, which combines X-ray images collected from different angles all over your body. The CT scan has a doughnut-shaped tube that circulates the X-ray 360 degrees around you, and the information obtained offers a thorough 3D perspective of the interior of your body.
Why are CT scans done?
The doctor may request a CT scan to:
- Identify internal bleeding and injuries.
- Find the location of a tumor, infection, or blood clot.
- Detect bone injuries and fractures.
- Direct treatment plans (such as surgeries, biopsies, and radiation therapy).
- Monitor diseases (such as cancer, heart disease, and liver masses).
- Track the results of specific treatments (such as cancer treatment).
How to prepare for a CT scan?
The radiologist will ask you to remove some or all of your clothes and any metallic items (such as jewelry) and put on a hospital gown. They will also ask you to refrain from eating or drinking for a few hours before your scan.
For some CT scans, a special dye known as contrast material is required to help highlight the parts of your body being scanned. Contrast material can help highlight blood vessels, intestines, and other structures by blocking X-rays and appearing white on pictures. You can receive the contrast material by:
– mouth (consuming a drink containing the contrast material)
– injection (direct injection of the contrast material into your vein)
– enema (the contrast material is introduced into your rectum)
What happens during a CT scan?
The scan time will vary depending on what areas of your body are being scanned; it may take only a few seconds or up to 30 minutes. You will perform the test while lying on a table that slides into a doughnut-shaped CT scanner.
You will be moved inside the scanner by the table as the detectors and the X-ray tube circle around you. Multiple images of your body in narrow slices are produced by each rotation. You may hear whirring and buzzing sounds and will be advised to maintain complete stillness because the movement can blur the image. At times, you might also have to hold your breath. The table will move back out of the scanner after the examination is over.
What happens after a CT scan?
You can leave and resume your regular schedule once the scan is finished and clear images have been confirmed. The doctor will provide specific post-operative instructions if you were given a contrast material, such as drinking plenty of water after the scan to aid your kidneys in flushing the contrast material from your system.
The scan normally takes 24 hours to produce the results. CT scans are often displayed on a computer screen and are stored as electronic data files; These pictures will be interpreted by our radiologist, who will send our doctor a report explaining the results within an hour.
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