Computed Tomography (CAT Scan): Procedure, Risks and Results (2023)

Doctors and other health professionals have years of training in their field, but there are still many things that they cannot diagnose simply by looking or listening to your body.

Certain medical conditions require a deeper look, usually into the tissues, blood vessels, and bones of your body. X-rays and ultrasounds can provide some information, but if a more detailed view is needed, a computed tomography (CT) scan is usually the next step.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at how a CT scan works, what it's typically used for, and what the procedure looks like.

A CT scan uses computers and rotatesbone scanMachines for creating cross-sectional images of the body. These images provide more detailed information than typical x-rays. They can show the soft tissues, blood vessels, and bones in different parts of the body.

A CT scan may be used to visualize:

  • Kopf
  • Back
  • spine
  • Hertz
  • Abdomen
  • Knee
  • Otherwise

During a CT scan, you lie inside a tunnel-like machine while the inside of the machine rotates, taking a series of X-rays from different angles.

These images are then sent to a computer, where they are combined to create images of slices, or cross sections, of the body. They can also be combined to create a 3D image of a specific area of ​​the body.

CT vs. CT Scan: What's the difference?

A CT scan and a CT scan are the same thing. CT stands for Computed Tomography and CAT stands for Computed Axial Tomography.

The original name of this scan was aEMI scan, named after the company that developed the technology. This has become CT, and CT is simply a more modern and simplified version of that name.

CT scans can provide detailed images of bones, tissues, and even blood vessels in your body.

However, the images produced by these scans appear in shades of black and gray. In certain situations, it can sometimes be difficult, even for a trained eye, to distinguish one type of tissue from another.

contrasting colorsthey contain barium or iodine and can be given in a number of ways, including by mouth and intravenously (into a vein). These dyes increase the level of contrast and resolution of the final images created with the CT scan for a more accurate diagnosis.

However, there are some risks associated with the use of contrast media. For example, there is a greater chance ofallergic reactionto the dyes, and they don't do you any good eitherKidneys.

Still, each CT scan exposes you to a certain amount of radiation, and a CT scan with contrast may give better results than a CT scan without contrast. You can also avoid the need to repeat the scan.

Below is a comparison of when CT scans with or without contrast can be used.

with contrastno contrast
acute appendicitisacute cerebrovascular accident
stage cancerheridas cerradas en la cabeza
diverticulitislung disease
Inflammatory bowel diseaseSwelling or injury to tissue in the arms or legs
pancreatitiskidney stones
pulmonary embolismspinal trauma

ACT Scan Has Many Uses, but it is particularly useful for diagnosing disease and evaluating injuries. Imaging technology can help your doctor:

  • Diagnosis of infections, muscle diseases and broken bones
  • Localization of masses and tumors, including cancer.
  • Examine blood vessels and other internal structures.
  • Assessment of the extent of internal injuries and internal bleeding
  • Leading procedures such as surgeries and biopsies.
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of treatments for certain medical conditions, including cancer and heart disease

The test is minimally invasive and can be performed quickly.

A CT scan is painless, but there are a few steps needed to get successful images.

How to prepare for a CT scan

CT scans do not require much preparation. If necessary, you can quickly perform a CT scan with or without contrast material. In fact, this is what happens in most cases where a CT scan is required to diagnose a traumatic injury or stroke.

If you are scheduled for a CT scan with contrast media, it may help to avoid solid foods for up to 4 hours before the test. This is especially true if your CT scan is being done to getpictures of your abdomen.

If your doctor uses oral contrast for your CT scan, they will likely give you the contrast before the day of the scan and give you instructions on how to prepare and drink it. In general, you should start drinking the solution within one to two hours of the scan and drink one serving of the solution every 15 minutes.

Your doctor or radiologist will give you specific instructions. If you will be given an intravenous (IV) contrast agent, a catheter will be inserted into your vein when you arrive at the testing center.

Otherwise, the only preparations you should do before a CT scan are to remove metal objects and medications from your body. This contains:

  • jewelry and piercings
  • clocks
  • lenses
  • Forks
  • earphones
  • dentures
  • underwire bras
  • “antimicrobial” clothing silver technology
  • Nicotine patches
  • other drug patches

What to expect during a CT scan?

When you come in for your CT scan, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown. The technician performing your scan may insert an intravenous catheter into your arm or leg and ask if you removed any metal equipment or medication patches prior to your arrival.

You can also check why the scan is being done, any allergies you may have, and any other special instructions.

When it's time to start the scan, you'll be placed on a long, narrow table and may be secured with Velcro or other securing devices. The table slides in and out of the circular scanner depending on which parts of your body need to be viewed.

The technician will leave the room before operating the scanner and may give you instructions over an intercom.

As the table moves in and out of the scanner, the machine rotates around it and makes a loud noise. You may be asked to hold your breath or hold certain positions. Otherwise, you should remain as still as possible to prevent the scanner from capturing blurry images.

The entire process should take between 20 minutes and 1 hour.

After your CT scan

After the CT scan is complete, the images are sent to a radiologist for review. A radiologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disease using imaging techniques, such as CT scans and X-rays.

Your doctor will contact you to explain the results.

There are very fewrisksassociated with a CT scan. These include:

  • radiation exposure
  • allergic reactions to contrast media
  • increased cancer risk with multiple scans

If you are allergic to contrast media, your doctor may decide to perform the scan without contrast media. If the use of contrast media is absolutely necessary, your doctor may prescribe steroids or other medications to prevent an allergic reaction.

After the scan, the contrast dye you received will naturally be excreted from your body through your urine and feces. Contrast dyes can put pressure on the kidneys, so you may be told to drink plenty of water after the test.

Can I have a CT scan if I am pregnant?

You may be nervous about the risks of imaging scans during pregnancy, but theAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)says that the radiation doses in a CT scan are well below what would harm a developing fetus.

UltrasonicyMRT scansThey are generally the first choice for pregnant women, but CT scans are safe and should not be avoided unless medically necessary.ACOG.

A contrast agent can still be used, but its use should be limited unless it can significantly improve the accuracy of a diagnosis.

CT scan results are considered typical if the radiologist did not see any of the following on the images:

  • Cancer
  • blood clot
  • fractures
  • other atypical features

If atypical features are found during the CT scan, you may need further testing or treatment, depending on the type of atypicality found.

CT scans are an excellent tool for diagnosing problems with soft tissue, blood vessels, and other parts of the body that cannot be seen with X-ray or ultrasound images.

These painless scans do not require much preparation and can be performed quickly in emergency situations. A CT scan takes less than an hour, but you may not get the results right away depending on who interprets them.

Your doctor will tell you if your scan will need a contrast medium and what actions you should take after evaluating the images.

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