Computerized Tomography or CT scan is a commonly used technology that utilized X-ray with computer managed software to produce cross sectional images of the body. The produced images can be viewed on a screen and later printed on special paper for permanent records. Different type of images are produced by CT scan, however, bony details are better visualized than soft tissue anatomy. When there is a need to visualize and examine soft tissue structures (like discs, muscles, nerves, and tendons), MRI is usually a better test to request.
As the patient lies on the table, the scanner which is a large cylinder passes over the area of interest. Directions will be given by the technician while the images are produces. This test does not elicit any pain or discomfort as the images are taken. After the images are taken the patient is directed out of the room. Depending on the technique, a contrast may be injected by IV to enhance the images. On occasions patients may have underwent other procedures prior to CT scanning like Myelogram or Discogram.
Please inform the technologist if you are pregnant, might be pregnant, or breast feeding. If you are allergic to any medications, iodine, contrast dye, or shellfish you should inform your physician and technologist. Although you may be asked to change into a hospital gown, wear comfortable clothing. Remove any metallic objects that may interfere with imaging. There is no contraindications to having pace makers or metallic implants as is the case with MRI’s. The exam usually lasts about 30 minutes.
There are no immediate risks to the exam, however as with any other X-ray procedure the patient is exposed to radiation. Risks, benefits, and alternatives should be evaluated.