A computed tomography, or CT scan, creates very detailed pictures of your body. These imaging tests can help detect a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Trauma
  • Cancers
  • Heart Disease
  • Neurological issues affecting the spine or brain

During a CT scan, multiple, rotating X-ray beams are guided by a computer to create cross sectional images or “slices” of the inside of various parts of the body at many angles. This technology gives doctors a much clearer view of these structures than regular X-rays.

Our team:

  • Offers the most advanced CT scanning capability, including dual-source CT technology - a new, ultra-fast approach that provides additional benefits over standard CT scans for trauma, heart and pediatric imaging, in particular
  • Uses the lowest possible radiation doses
  • Has the expertise to perform specialized CT tests, including CT lung cancer screenings and cardiac CT exams that allow doctors to look closely at the heart and its arteries

Preparing for a CT Scan

Your doctor will provide information about how to best prepare for your specific CT scan. In general, you should:

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing; you may be given a gown to wear during the exam.
  • Remove jewelry, hair clips, eyeglasses or other metal objects, which can affect the CT images.
  • Follow any instructions that were given to you. For example, you may need to avoid eating or drinking for a certain period of time before your exam. For cardiac exams, you may be asked to adjust or stop taking certain medications.
  • Inform your doctor or technologist if there’s any chance you could be pregnant.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time. Some CT exams require drinking an oral dye known as contrast before you are taken into the exam room. In this case, you will be asked to arrive up to 90 minutes earlier.

Be sure to talk with your doctor about any concerns you might have before your test date.

What to Expect During and After a CT Scan

Here's what you can expect:

  • Depending on the specific CT scan, the test can take between 5 and 30 minutes.
  • You’ll be taken to an exam room and asked to lie on a table.
  • The technologist (the person who will perform your test) will help position you (usually on your back) to get the best images and to make sure you’re comfortable.
  • The table, which is on tracks, will slowly move you into the center of the doughnut-shaped scanner.
  • Try to stay as still as possible to avoid blurring the images.
  • Even though you’ll be alone in the room, the technologist will check in with you over a speaker during the test. He or she may ask you to hold your breath for up to 30 seconds at a time during the scan.
  • You can resume all of your usual activities after the test is over.

A radiologist (a doctor who uses medical imaging techniques to find or treat diseases or injuries) will look at the images and send a report to the doctor who ordered the exam, typically within 24 hours. Your doctor will help explain what the results mean for you.

What Is "Contrast"?

For some CT scans, you will be given a special dye – either by mouth or injected into a vein in your hand or forearm. This dye is called contrast. It helps make the pictures of the area of the body being studied even clearer.

The CT technologist or radiology nurse will let you know how the contrast will be given and what to expect. For example, if you are given contrast in a vein, you may notice a metallic taste in your mouth and a warm, flushing feeling through your body. These sensations are harmless and go away within a few moments.

Be sure to drink plenty of water after your test to help flush the contrast out of your system.

If you need a CT scan with contrast, let your doctor know if you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney problems
  • Had issues with contrast dye in the past or are allergic to iodine

What Is CT Lung Cancer Screening?

CT lung cancer screening is a specific type of CT scan that allows doctors to look at your lungs for any signs of cancer. This test can detect very small tumors or nodules (masses of cells) that may not be visible on a standard chest X-ray. With this scan, we can identify nodules as small as 2 to 3 millimeters – about the size of a pen tip.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. CT lung cancer screening is often recommended for people considered to be at high risk for lung cancer, especially those with a history of smoking. To find out if you are a candidate for CT lung cancer screening, talk with your doctor.

What Are Cardiac CT Scans?

Cardiac CT scans are special imaging tests that help your doctor look at your heart and your heart’s arteries (called the coronary arteries). This test is increasingly helping patients avoid procedures called cardiac catheterization that involve having a catheter inserted into the blood vessels.

We offer two types of cardiac CT scans to look for heart disease:

  • Calcium scoring is often ordered when someone has an elevated risk for developing heart disease, including a family history of early-onset heart disease.
  • Coronary CT angiography is often used if a calcium score or stress test is abnormal or if someone is having symptoms such as chest pain.

For both heart tests, electrocardiogram (EKG) wires will be placed on your chest so the CT scanner can take images while also measuring your heart rate.

Calcium Scoring

Calcium scoring helps your doctor assess the buildup of calcium or plaque in the heart’s arteries. Coronary artery disease, which remains the number one killer of men and women in the United States, most often results from these plaque deposits that gradually cause the walls of the coronary arteries to narrow. The more calcium deposits someone has, the more likely they are to have a heart attack or develop other heart problems.

This test usually takes about 10 minutes, and no injections or medications are necessary. Because it's a screening test that's often used in patients without symptoms, be sure to check with your health insurance carrier about coverage.

Cardiac Angiography

This test is used to assess blood flow through your heart and its arteries. It provides very detailed pictures of the coronary arteries and other anatomy of the heart. It can help doctors determine the extent of coronary artery disease (blockages in the heart’s arteries) and the best way to treat it.

If you are scheduled to have a coronary angiography, there are a few things you should keep in mind. For example you may be:

  • Asked not to eat or drink anything for four hours before the test (this varies, so be sure to check with your doctor)
  • Asked to avoid anything with caffeine or nicotine after midnight before the test
  • Given a special dye (known as contrast) that will be injected into a vein in your arm
  • Prescribed a medication that lowers your heart rate prior to the exam, or a medication may be given to you during the exam depending on your symptoms

For More Information

For more information or if you have specific questions, please contact the care provider who ordered your CT scan.

If you need to schedule an imaging test, please call 1-704-512-2060.

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