CT imaging uses special x-ray equipment to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views of the area being studied. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor or printed. With CT scanning, numerous x-ray beams and a set of electronic x-ray detectors rotate around you, measuring the amount of radiation being absorbed throughout your body. At the same time, the examination table is moving through the scanner, so that the x-ray beam follows a spiral path. A special computer program processes this series of pictures, or slices of your body, to create two-dimensional cross-sectional images, which are then displayed on a monitor.
Our radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will share the results with you.
Do I have to go into that “tunnel”?
The tunnel or gantry is the opening in the CT scanner. The gantry is more like a donut than a tunnel. It is 30 inches in diameter and is open in the front and back. Since the gantry contains the x-ray tube and detector which create the CT pictures, the part of your body being scanned must pass through it. For example if your head or neck is being evaluated, then your head and neck will pass through the gantry for the few minutes it takes to scan you. If the scan is of your abdomen, then only your lower chest down will pass through the gantry.
Is CT an x-ray?
Yes. A CT scan is made up of a series of x-rays which are processed by a computer to produce cross-sectional pictures of the body. These cross-sectional images allow one to look at the inside of the body just as one would look at the inside of a loaf of bread by slicing it. A CT scan is thus made up of a series of slices.
Why do I need an injection?
For some CT scans, dye or contrast is injected into a vein. This contrast can help distinguish normal tissues from abnormal tissues. It also helps to distinguish blood vessels from other structures such as lymph nodes.
Why do I have to drink so much of this “stuff”?
Prior to most CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis, it is important to drink an oral contrast agent which contains dilute barium. This contrast agent helps the radiologist identify the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, small and large bowel), detect abnormalities of these organs, and to separate these structures from other structures within the abdomen.
I’ve heard that the dye injection is dangerous. Is that true?
Like any medication, people can have a bad reaction to the x-ray dye or contrast. At W.I.S.H, we use the safest available contrast agent. Patients at increased risk may require special pre-treatment.
How and when will I get the results of the exam?
Your doctor should receive a written report in 3 to 5 business days. If requested by your physician, a report can be called to him/her the day of the exam. Your results will be available to you from your doctor.