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COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY

Computed Tomography

Overview

Computer tomography scan or more popularly known as CT scans are a non-invasive diagnostic imaging procedure utilizing a combination of computer and X-ray technology to generate accurate and detailed images of body structures including organs, blood vessels, tissues, and bones. Widely regarded as one of the most important medical developments of the past century, it is a valuable medical diagnostic tool that allows specialists to more easily and accurately diagnose diseases.

Compared to the standard X-ray technology which generates two-dimensional views of bodily structures, CT scans can create detailed and 360-degree images. This is made possible by an X-ray machine rotating around the body and taking various images in thin and horizontal slices. A computer, in turn, draws together these cross-section images to create a three-dimensional model of the bodily structure.

CT Scans are typically utilized in the workup of abdominal or chest pain. During cases when cancer is suspected, a CT scan is relied upon by physicians in visualizing the tumor and assessing its size and location as well as the potential involvement with other tissues.

CT scanning is also widely used for the early detection of cancer. Low-dose CT scans, wherein the radiation emitted is significantly lower and which can take less than a minute to complete, is highly recommended for adults considered to be at high-risk of lung cancer due to their history of smoking.  It may also be used in detecting vascular diseases, osteoporosis, infections, and find injuries, clots, hemorrhages, and other issues.

How it Works

During a CT scan procedure, a patient lies on a motorized table that goes through the CT scanner, a large machine with a hole in the center. This advanced machine emits a series of radiation beams through the patient’s body which is held in position with straps and pillows.

As the table moves the patient into the scanner, an X-ray source rotates around the circular opening. Each rotation yields different images of internal organs and tissues. All data coming from the X-ray source is digitally transmitted to a computer that reconstructs the individual shots of internal organs and tissues.

In some instances, a patient may need to be administered with contrast agent to visualize organs, blood vessels, and certain structures that are hard to be seen. A contrast agent may be administered intravenously, orally, or both; depending on how your doctor prescribes it.

During the Test

During the test, the patient will lie on the motorized table which then goes through the CT scanner. The specialist leaves the exam room and goes into a control room. The patient can communicate with the technologist through an intercom.

The table then slowly goes into the scanner and moves a few millimeters at a time. Buzzing and whirring sounds may be heard. However, the patient won’t feel anything throughout the entire procedure.

The patient needs to stay still while the CT images are being captured. Movement can result in blurred images. In some instances, the patient may be asked to hold his or her breath for a few seconds to prevent the chest from moving.

Once the procedure is over, the captured images are processed and transmitted to a radiologist for review. A report will be generated and sent electronically to your chart and to your ordering physician.

CT scans are a painless procedure that normally takes 15-30 minutes to complete including the interview and administration of contrast material.  But there are instances when additional scanning may be needed depending on the diagnostic requirements.

Preparation

Regardless of the type of scan a patient may receive, it is very important that the patient avoids clothing with any metal zippers, underwire bras, metal clasps, or jewelry.  Also, please notify the ordering physician if there is any chance that you may be pregnant.

For Patients Drinking Oral Contrast:

  • Four hours fasting prior to the exam.
  • One day prior to your CT Scan, please do the following:
    1. Refrigerate the READI-CAT (shake well before drinking).
    2. Drink one bottle of the READI-CAT at 8:00 pm the night before.
    3. An hour prior to appointment time, drink the entire bottle within 15 minutes.

For Patients Receiving an IV Contrast:

  • Four hours fasting prior to the exam.
  • If you are receiving IV contrast for CT scan, you must have a BUN and CREATININE blood test drawn and the results forwarded to us or in your chart prior to the CT scan. Please inform your physician if you are allergic to IV contrast, iodine, or shellfish
    1. BUN and CREATININE are required for all contrast patients.
    2. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire and consent form for injection.

For All Diabetic Patients:

This is a list of diabetic medications – excluding insulin – that should be discontinued at the time of procedure using IV contrast medium:

  1. The patient must have a recent normal BUN/CREATININE within 4 weeks.
  2. Glucophage and diabetic medications listed below are to be stopped prior to receiving IV contrast.
  3. These medications should be withheld 48 hours after the IV contrast. A repeat BUN and CREATININE should be drawn before the patient goes back on their diabetic medications.
  4. The patient’s renal functions should be normal before starting these following medications:
    • Glucophage
    • Metformin
    • Janumet
    • PandiMet
    • Riomet
    • Glumetza
    • Fortamet
    • Glucovance
    • Actoplus Met
    • Avandamet
    • Metaglip

Types of CT Scans

  • CT Head or Brain. CT scan of the brain is used to assess injury or abnormality including tumors, bleeding, blood clots, or any sign of stroke.
  • CT Orbits. This is a procedure that scans the eyes, its sockets or orbits, as well as the surrounding nerves, muscles, and bones. It is used to detect infection of the eye area, foreign object in the eye socket or a damaged eye socket bone.
  • CT Soft Tissue Neck. This type of CT scan examines the neck starting from above the ears and below the collarbone. It can accurately diagnose conditions affecting areas like the mouth, throat, nasal passages, and thyroid glands.
  • CT Maxillofacial. This is a key diagnostic procedure for evaluating face trauma. It is used to assess parts of the face like the jaw, orbits, sinuses, and cheekbone.
  • CT Sinus. A procedure aimed at capturing images of the sinuses, CT sinus is useful in diagnosing sinusitis and examining tumors of the sinuses and the nasal cavity.
  • CT Chest. This procedure helps uncover the cause of unexplained chest pain, cough, difficulty in breathing, and other chest-related symptoms.
  • CT Abdomen. This examination helps in detecting diseases of the colon, small bowel, and other internal organs.
  • CT Pelvis. CT pelvis examines structures inside and near the pelvis such as bladder, prostate and reproductive organs as well as pelvic bones and lymph nodes.
  • Cervical Spine. This procedure is often performed in patients who recently were in an accident as well as those who are complaining of neck pain. It examines the portion of the spine running through the neck.
  • Thoracic This type of CT scan can diagnose abnormalities in the mid back area from the bottom of the neck to the upper abdominal area.
  • Lumbar Spine. This type of CT scan can diagnose conditions affecting the lumbar portion of the spine.
  • CT Upper Extremity. This procedure can evaluate pain, swelling, trauma, and fracture in any area of the upper extremity including the hand, shoulder, and arms.
  • CT Lower Extremity. By obtaining multiple images of the hip, ankle, knees, and foot, this procedure can help determine the cause of swelling, pain, or trauma involving the lower extremities.
  • Low-Dose Lung Cancer Screening. This type of CT scan is recommended for people with no history or symptoms of the disease but are considered high-risk because of a history of heavy smoking or advanced age (55 to 80 years old).
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Our mission at NY Imaging Specialists is to provide the highest-quality advanced imaging in a patient-centered and compassionate environment, with the comfort and convenience of being close to home.

Call to schedule an appointment at 833-269-4624.