CT Scan


Getting a CT Scan

Learn what to expect when getting a CT scan at INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Health Center.

Computer Tomography, more commonly referred to as CT or CAT Scan, is a special type of X-ray procedure, which makes cross-sectional images of various parts of the body. These cross sectional pictures show the various structures contained within the region being examined. For example, a CT Scan of the body shows the various structures contained within the abdomen, chest or pelvis.

CT Scan of the Head

A CT Scan of the head produces cross-sectional images of the head. It is a safe procedure. It uses X-ray beams, but provides much more detail than a standard X-ray film. It can help diagnose various problems, such as tumors, blood clots or injured tissue.

CT is an abbreviation for computerized tomography. Tomography means that the X-ray tube travels in one plane around the head. It sends many beams though the same flat plane. The beams are altered by the nature of tissues they pass through. These changes are detected on the other side of the head and analyzed by computer. The computer translates the image to a film that displays various tissue types in different shades of black and white.

CT Scans of the head are used to:

  • Diagnose various brain abnormalities
  • Monitor the effects of surgery or cancer therapy
  • Assess nerve problems that suggest a brain tumor
  • Find internal bleeding after a head injury

Scanning typically lasts from 15 to 30 minutes and is painless. The person may receive an injection of intravenous contrast media ("X-ray dye") to demonstrate vascular structures. If so, the person is instructed to fast for 4 hours before the test. Some people are sensitive to the contrast. A sign of this is past reactions to shellfish. The dye may cause warm feelings, flushed face, or metallic taste.

During a CT, the person lies still on the scanning table. It is important not to move during the scan. A device or strap holds the head in place, but does not cover the face.

The person removes all jewelry and metal from his or her head and neck. The table slides in and out of the CT unit, which is a large circular structure. The scanner rotates around the head, and may make clacking noises.

Communication is maintained throughout the procedure. If a person becomes panicky, the procedure may be stopped at any time. (Some people have a fear of enclosed spaces. The doctor may give a mild sedative to restless or anxious people.)

After a CT Scan, one should watch for signs of delayed reaction to the IV contrast. These include itching, rash, sweating or difficulty breathing. The patient should drink plenty of fluids to rid the body of the dye.

CT Scan of the Body

A CT Scan produces cross-sectional images of the body. It is a safe procedure. It uses X-ray beams, but provides much more detail than a standard X-ray film. It can help diagnose problems with various internal organs.

CT is an abbreviation for computerized tomography. Tomography means that the X-ray tube travels in one plane around the body. It sends many beams though the same flat plane. The beams are altered by the nature of tissues they pass through. These changes are detected on the other side of the body and analyzed by computer. The computer translates the image to a film that displays various tissue types in different shades of black and white.

CT Scans are useful for identifying tumors, blood clots, cysts, or obstructions. They can view various parts of the body, including:

  • Liver and gall bladder
  • Pancreas
  • The spine or skeleton
  • Kidneys
  • Eyes
  • Chest and back

Scanning typically lasts from 30 to 60 minutes and is painless. The person may receive intravenous contrast media ("X-ray dye") to demonstrate vascular structures. If so, the person is instructed to fast for 4 hours before the test. Some people are sensitive to the contrast. The dye may cause warm feelings, flushed face, or metallic taste.

During a CT, the patient lies still on the scanning table. He or she removes all jewelry and metal. The table slides in and out of the CT unit, which is a large circular structure. It is important not to move during the scan, and you will be holding your breath intermittently. The scanner rotates around the table, and may make clacking noises.

Communication is maintained throughout the procedure. If a person becomes panicky, the procedure may be stopped at any time. (Some people have a fear of enclosed spaces. The doctor may give a mild sedative to restless or anxious people.) After a CT Scan, one should watch for signs of delayed reaction to the IV contrast. These include itching, rash, sweating, or difficulty breathing. The person should drink plenty of fluids, to rid the body of the dye. CT scanning of the abdomen should not be performed during pregnancy.

Preparing for a CT Scan

Preparing for a CT Scan can involve detailed procedures, but s a general guideline, food and fluids should not be taken 4 hours prior to an exam using contrast media. Although not all CT exams use contrast media, contrast is used for certain CTs in order to highlight specific structures.

As with injected drugs, there are certain risks associated with the use of contrast agents. Although these risks are minimal, certain patients will have greater risks than others, so the patient is asked specific questions in order to determine risk factors.

The benefits provided by contrast agents, as well as by the CT procedure itself, should outweigh the risks significantly. It is for these reasons that one cannot have a CT Scan without cause. A physician must order this exam for a specific reason so that the area examined and the range of pictures obtained provide the appropriate diagnostic information.



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Oklahoma's largest hospital network
3300 N.W. Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK 73112 Phone: (405) 951-2277
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