What is a CT scan?
A computerized tomography scan (CT or scan) or computer axial tomography (CAT scan) is a diagnostic imaging procedure using a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
The CT machine is a room-sized donut-shaped x-ray machine that takes x-ray images at various different angles around the body. These images are processed by a computer to produce cross-sectional pictures of the body as if it were a loaf of bread. As you remove each slice of bread, you can see the entire surface of that slice from the crust to the center. The body is seen on CT scan slices in a similar fashion from the skin to the central part of the body being examined. When these levels are "added" together, a three-dimensional picture of an organ or abnormal body structure can be obtained.
A CT scan is used to define normal and abnormal structures in the body and/or assist in procedures by helping to accurately guide the placement of instruments or treatments. View our Commonly Ordered CT Procedures and Their Indications.
Commonly Ordered CT Procedures:
- Pulmonary Embolism Chest (PE Chest)
- CT Angiography (CTA)
WHAT TO EXPECT:
It is best to arrive early for your procedure, usually anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment depending upon the preparation required for the procedure.
During the procedure, the patient is positioned on a table, which slides in and out of the CT scanner. Patients may be required to remove any artifacts from the area of interest, including lowering pants to move metal buttons and zippers. The patient's privacy is maintained at all times.
The machine will make some noises as it takes its images. The patient must remain still and listen for breathing instructions. Procedures are generally painless and usually takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes, but may be longer the exam is for a specific area such as the liver or urinary system.
After the procedure, a doctor of radiology "a Radiologist" will review the images taken, dictate a report which is transcribed and forwarded to the ordering physician within 3 business days. Patients receive the results from the ordering physician.
CT vs. MRI