What is CT?
CT stands for Computed Tomography which is the use of x-ray, along with a computer, to obtain specialized images of almost any area in the body. This is also commonly referred to as a CAT scan. All of the scans require you to lie on a table and have the body part of interest in the scanner. In order to secure the best images, the technologist will ask you to try and hold still for the images. The technologist may also ask you to hold your breath which will ensure the images don’t turn out blurry. Your doctor, along with the Radiologist who will be reading the exam, make decisions as to what is needed to obtain the best images. Sometimes this requires drinking oral contrast, or getting IV contrast through a vein, usually in your arm.
What is the difference between oral contrast and IV contrast?
The purpose of oral contrast is to highlight the stomach and bowel on an abdominal and/or pelvic CT. The purpose of the IV contrast is to highlight the blood vessels in the body and is utilized for many of our scans. IV contrast is also helpful to identify infection. IV contrast should not be given to individuals who are allergic to iodine without being pre-medicated first. Some other things that are checked prior to administration of IV contrast are kidney function for those over age 65 and the use of certain medications for diabetes.
What are some of the most common procedures?
These scans are typically done without IV contrast first, then, if indicated, IV contrast is given and more pictures are obtained. For this scan, you are placed in the scanner head first with your head in a cradle to try to minimize motion during the scan. This procedure usually takes from 5-15 min. depending if dye is used.
CT Cervical/Thoracic/Lumbar Spine
These scans are almost always done without IV contrast. Indications are usually pain and to rule out fracture from injury. This procedure usually lasts about 5-10 min. if motion is not a factor.
CT Soft Tissue Neck
These scans are usually done for swelling or lumps in the neck. This procedure usually requires the use of IV dye as there are many blood vessels in the neck. You are placed in the scanner head first and asked to not swallow during the pictures. This procedure takes about 5-10 min.
These scans are usually done with IV contrast as well. This test is sometimes done to get a better look at something that was seen on a chest x-ray. This scan is also often ordered to follow nodules and usually lasts about 10 min.
These scans are ordered for many reasons and are tailored to the symptoms that you are experiencing. For instance, if we are looking just for kidney stones, no IV or oral contrast is required. If we are looking for appendicitis, both IV and oral contrast are administered. Specifically, if kidney imaging is to be done, images can be taken prior to IV dye and usually delayed images are taken to see kidney function. Because of the many variables, you can usually expect to be in the department for about 1 hour for an abdominal CT scan.
These scans are usually done to evaluate the presence and severity of a fracture. Arthritis and post-surgery evaluation can be some other indications. These tests are almost always done without IV contrast and usually take about 10-15 min. Our goal is that you leave our facility with a positive experience and feel confident in recommending Memorial to your friends and family.