CT Scan Procedures

A CT scan (computed tomography) or what some people call a CAT scan (computerized axial tomography) is a radiological procedure that produces images through the use of computers, as well as x-rays. These images being produced are also known as slices, which means they are cross-sectional and include both horizontal and vertical images of the body. A CT scan is very beneficial in the fact that it creates more detailed pictures than x-rays, and it can create images of any body part. For example, a CT scan can reveal pictures of organs, muscles, the skeletal system and much more.

During an x-ray, there is a great amount of energy that is going through the body. There is also a plate that is on the other side of the body part being examined. The beam and plate work together in the sense that they can create an image of the body parts such as the muscles, bones, and the skin. Though an x-ray can reveal a lot of important information, internal organs and other parts of the body aren’t as clear as a CT scan.

As for computed tomography (CT scans), an x-ray beam isn’t passing through the body, but is going in circles around the body. With the circle beams going around the body, certain structures of the body are getting a greater look, and there is much more detail being provided. Once the x-ray is taken, the information is sent to a computer and is displayed in a two-dimensional image. If the physician has the latest technology, they may have software that provides a three-dimensional image

Before a CT scan is done, a physician will tell their patient whether or not they need to take a certain substance orally, or get a substance injected through an IV. This substance is known as ‘contrast,’ and is used in order to see the part of the body being studied much more clearly. If the physician does recommend a contrast procedure, the patient may have to fast for a certain time period beforehand.

Though studies have shown that a majority of patients, being 85 percent, don’t have reactions to iodinated contrast, it’s very important that patients do consult with their physicians if they have any side effects or kidney problems. It’s also important for patients with health concerns or for pregnant women to notify their physician, as this may create complications. This procedure lasts 10-20 minutes on average, so it’s important for patients to tell their physician if they’re concerned about following through. Patients who suffer from claustrophobia or anxiety may be given a sedative.

CT Scan/CAT Scan Options in Colorado Springs, CO

Computed tomography offers so many great benefits to patients, some being it can look further into internal bleeding, diagnose certain abnormalities and search for other injuries to the body. Since radiation is used during an x-ray, it’s best for patients to consult with their physician if they have any concerns on the amount of radiation being used.

If a physician needs to do advancements in a CT scan, they can perform some of following procedures:

  • Spinal or helical CT scans: these types of CT scans offer more detailed images that contain a much higher resolution. These images are also taken much quicker and by an x-ray beam that is moving around the patient continuously.
  • High-resolution CT scan: this is another type of CT scan that offers images to be much more detailed by using thin slices that are less than a tenth of an inch.
  • Ultrafast CT scan: a type of scan that can produce images very quickly, and can also create what appears to be a movie. This type of scan is also known as electron beam CT.
  • Arteriography or angiography: these scans include an x-ray of the blood vessels. During an angiogram, a physician will use CAT technology instead of x-rays or even fluoroscopy in order to create images of the patient’s blood vessels.
  • Positron Emission Tomography and Combined Computed Tomography: these procedures are combined and can also be known as ‘PET/CT.’ These two technologies work together in order to examine the patient’s anatomy, as well as the metabolism and cell function. With this technology, a patient can get a better diagnosis and treatment for their health concern.

Important Reminder Before the Exam Begins:

Patients should notify their physician if they are pregnant, have anxiety, and/or are allergic to iodine.

How are CAT Scans Performed?

Each facility may have their own protocols, but most follow these general guidelines:

  • A CT scan can be done as an inpatient care or outpatient care.
  • Before the CT scan begins, the patient will have to remove all jewelry, clothes and other items that may get in the way of the procedure.
  • Patients that are in need of a contrast procedure will be given an IV or be given an oral medication to swallow.
  • Patients will be placed in a machine with a circular opening.
  • Patients will always be monitored by the staff, and the scanner will be equipped with speakers in order to communicate with the technologist at all times.
  • X-rays will be taken as the scanner circles around the patient.
  • X-rays will be shown on the computer screen after the x-rays are absorbed.
  • Patients must remain as still as possible at all times during the procedure.
  • Patients may be asked by the radiologists to wait for their results and may be told they need additional examinations in order to get better images.