A computerized tomography (CT) scan combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images, or slices, of the bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues inside your body.
CT scan images provide more detailed information than plain X-rays do. It assists physicians in better seeing a variety of areas, such as the spine, head, abdomen, and chest, including detailed imaging of the heart.
A CT scan has many uses but is particularly well-suited to quickly examine people who may have internal injuries from car accidents or other types of trauma. A CT scan can be used to visualize nearly all parts of the body and is used to diagnose disease or injury as well as to plan medical, surgical, or radiation treatment.
CT scans are noninvasive and usually painless. Your doctor may recommend a CT scan to help:
- Diagnose muscle and bone disorders, such as bone tumors and fractures
- Pinpoint the location of a tumor, infection, or blood clot
- Guide procedures such as surgery, biopsy, and radiation therapy
- Detect and monitor diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung nodules, and liver masses
- Monitor the effectiveness of certain treatments, such as cancer treatment
- Detect internal injuries and internal bleeding
Before your examination, a CT technologist will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have. The technologist will ask you several questions about your medical history.
It is helpful to have a list of current medications and dosages you are taking. A CT technologist, also known as a radiologic technologist, is a skilled medical professional who has received specialized education in the areas of anatomy, patient positioning, patient care, radiation safety, imaging techniques, and CT procedures.
During the Examination
Examination time can range from 10 minutes to more than an hour, depending upon the part of the body being examined and whether or not a contrast agent is used. For a head scan, you will be asked to remove eyeglasses, dentures, and barrettes or hairpins.
For a body scan, you may be asked to put on a hospital gown and to remove all jewelry, because metal can interfere with the imaging. You will be provided with a secure place to store these items during your examination.
Even the slightest movement can blur the image, so it's important to hold still during the scan.
The CT technologist will position you on the scanning table. If you are undergoing a head scan, the technologist will place your head in a cradle to help prevent movement. For head scans and other parts of the body, you will be secured onto the table with a safety strap.
You may be given a contrast agent to drink before the examination begins, and/or it may be administered through an injection into a vein. The contrast agent helps visualize tissues in the area being studied. You may feel nauseous, flushed, or headachy after the contrast is administered; these are normal reactions. However, if you feel itchy or short of breath, you may be having an allergic reaction to the contrast agent and you should tell the technologist immediately.
The technologist will guide the scanning table into the CT unit, which is a rectangular machine with a large circular hole in the center. The CT technologist will not be in the room during the scan but will be able to observe you through a window from an adjacent room and will be able to hear you and talk to you through a two-way microphone system.
During the scan, the x-ray tube within the CT unit will rotate around you, taking x-ray pictures of one very thin slice of tissue after another. As the x-ray tube rotates, you will hear a whirring sound. The table that you are on will move slightly to reposition you for each scan, but it moves so slowly that you might not even notice it.
The technologist will tell you when each scan sequence is beginning and how long it will last. You should remain as still as possible throughout the sequence, and for certain scans you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds.
The x-ray unit that rotates around your body is linked to a computer that processes each scan in a matter of seconds. The final scans, called "CT images," are sent to a monitor that the CT technologist observes throughout the procedure. The scans then can be output on film or recorded on CD to be taken to your physician.
When the exam is complete, your CT scans will be given to a radiologist - a physician who specializes in the diagnostic interpretation of medical images.
SOMATOM Definition Flash - The SOMATOM Definition Flash was designed to make CT exams much quicker and healthier for patients. Its core innovation – the revolutionary Flash Spiral – offers incredibly sharp images at the fastest possible speed while emitting the lowest possible dose of radiation.
With its Dual Source technology, the SOMATOM Definition Flash is the fastest scanner on the market. It produces higher-quality scans with reduced prep time and significantly reduces image artifacts due to motion.
It minimizes risk and anxiety for children, allows sound diagnosis in obese patients, and handles challenging cardiac cases. It is equipped with two Stellar Detectors for outstanding spatial resolution, image quality, and dose efficiency. With the SOMATOM Definition Flash, speed means a more reliable diagnosis leading to sound treatment decisions in a wide variety of clinical applications.
Symbia® Truepoint Spect CT - Ideal for the early detection and staging of cancer and heart disease. Accommodates patients of all sizes & body types. Open design & ultra-thin pallets enhance patient comfort & enable technicians to perform highly accurate organ & tissue-specific studies.
HD Digital Detectors offer unsurpassed imaging performance & expanded clinical capabilities. Spect CT is a diagnostic molecular imaging exam that assists physicians in seeing body function by creating 3D images. The images created provide information about the body that is not available with other methods such as x-ray, CTs, or MRIs.
Somatom® Sensation 64 Slice CT - Image quality and detail that is hard to outperform. Obtains images in a single-breath hold, improving patient comfort and reducing radiation exposure.
Advanced multi-slice CT is one of the most important recent developments in diagnostic imaging as it allows patients to be examined in a single breath hold, virtually eliminating motion artifacts, and providing superior diagnostic information.
We have two high-speed Siemens SOMATOM Sensation 64 and Cardiac Multi-slice CT scanners that allow the use of high-performance spiral CT routinely, which provides extended coverage of anatomical areas while producing superior image quality.
GE Lightspeed 16CT Scanner - The Lightspeed product expands multi-slice CT scanning technology from 8 to 16 slices per rotation. Lightspeed16 incorporates breakthrough innovations that deliver speed with submillimeter resolution and effective dose optimization to push clinical applications to new levels.
Engineered specifically for the demanding requirements of sub-second CT scanning, the GE Lightspeed16 provides faster and thinner slices of images and improves 3D and reformatted 2D resolution.
This allows for superb sub-millimeter isotropic resolution that facilitates imaging of small tortuous vessels, fine bony structures and coronary arteries.
Responsible dose management has always been a priority with CUC and GE. In CT scanning, image quality is often improved at the expense of higher radiation dose to the patient. However, the Lightspeed16TM is designed to offer stellar images at a minimum patient dose.
Vitrea 3-D Imaging Workstation - Vitrea software is an advanced visualization solution that creates 2D, 3D, and 4D images of human anatomy from CT (computed tomography) and MR (magnetic resonance) image data. With this tool, physicians can easily navigate within these images to better understand disease conditions.