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CT – “Cat” Scan – Computed Tomography

CT scanAt CMI Tanasbourne, our GE Revolution 64-slice scanner allows us to diagnose certain diseases earlier, offering patients and physicians more effective treatments. Plus, patients can expect shorter and more definitive exams.

At CMI Bridgpeort, patients also experience shorter and more definitive exams with our 16 slice GE Bright Speed CT scanner.

CT scans, also known as CAT scans, obtain multiple cross-sectional images of the body by using special X-rays and computer enhancement to create an image many times more sensitive than a simple X-ray.

Using a rotating ring containing a fan shaped X-ray beam, the body is X-rayed from many angles. A computer captures the images and creates a detailed two-dimensional cross-section or “slice” of the body. The “slices” can then be processed further to generate 3-D images viewable from many perspectives.

Preparing for a CT scan

Risks of CT are similar to those of conventional X-ray. During a CT scan, the patient is briefly exposed to ionizing radiation. Physicians and other scientists believe that CT scans provide enough valuable information to outweigh the associated risks with radiation.

Patients should inform their physicians if:

  • They are pregnant or suspect they might be.
  • They have asthma or allergies.
  • They have certain medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, kidney problems or thyroid conditions.

During a CT scan

A CT scan is generally very quick and is painless. To complete a scan, the patient lies flat on a movable table that is guided into the center of the CT scanner. The table will move through the scanner as images are captured of the patient’s body. During the procedure, a Technologist watches through an observation window. A two-way intercom may be used for communication. Patients must remain completely still during exam to prevent blurred images, and will occasionally be asked by the Technologist to hold their breath.

CT scan with contrast

Although bones show up clearly on X-ray images, some other organs and tissues do not. Contrast agents, also known as contrast media, often are used during medical imaging examinations to highlight specific parts of the body.

Contrast agents are administered either as a drink or may be injected by I.V. or as an enema. After the examination, contrast agents are excreted through the urine or bowel movements. If the exam requested by a physician requires a contrast agent, a Technologist will explain to the patient how it is used before the exam begins.

One of the most commonly used contrast agents is barium sulfate. Barium blocks the passage of X-rays, so barium-filled organs stand out better on X-ray exams. For an examination of the esophagus or stomach, patients are asked to drink a mixture of barium sulfate and water, sometimes with vanilla or fruit-flavoring added. This mixture usually is thick and white. For an examination of the rectum or colon, barium is administered rectally through an enema tube. It is a good idea for patients to increase fluid intake after the exam to help remove the contrast from their body. Afterwards, bowel movements may be white for a few days.

Contrast agents containing iodine are used to image the urinary tract, blood vessels, spleen, liver, bile duct and joints. An iodine contrast agents is a clear liquid which is usually are injected into a vein or artery. It can also be injected directly into a joint. Patients who are allergic to iodine should not receive this type of contrast agent. Patients with diabetes or renal disease must take precautions because some conditions and medications make the use of iodine contrast agents riskier.

After a CT scan

Once the exam is complete, the detailed images will be reviewed by one of CMI’s expert Radiologists and a report will be delivered to the patient’s physician.

How is CT Used?

The images obtained from a CT scan are used to help:

Diagnose muscle and bone disorders, such as osteoporosis

Pinpoint the location of a tumor, infection or blood clot

Guide procedures like surgery, biopsy, and radiation therapy

Detect and monitor diseases such as cancer or heart disease, and monitor the progression of a disease

Detect internal injuries and internal bleeding

Unlike MRI, CT exams can be done even if the patient has a pacemaker or cardioverter defibrillator


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