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.
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.
As part of the Active Transformation Program, we may recommend a CT scan to help:
- Diagnose muscle and bone disorders, such as bone tumors and fractures
- Measure patency of the airway
- Locate malposition of the Jaw
- 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
During a CT scan, you’re briefly exposed to ionizing radiation. The amount of radiation is greater than you would get during a plain X-ray because the CT scan gathers more detailed information. CT scans have not been shown to cause long-term harm, although there may be a very small potential to increase your risk of cancer.
CT scans have many benefits that outweigh this small potential risk. Doctors use the lowest dose of radiation possible to obtain the needed medical information. Also, newer, faster machines and techniques require less radiation than was previously used. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of your CT scan.
Depending on which part of your body is being scanned, you may need to prepare by:
- Taking off some or all of your clothing and to wear a hospital gown
- Remove any metal objects, such as a belt, jewelry, dentures and eyeglasses, which might interfere with image results
- Refraining from eating or drinking for a few hours before your scan
What can you expect?
You can have a CT scan done in a hospital or an outpatient facility. CT scans are painless and, with newer machines, take only a few minutes. The whole procedure typically takes about 30 minutes.