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A CT scan, or CAT scan, is another name for computerized tomography —- an imaging procedure that uses X-rays to create a cross-sectional image (slices) of the body.
Why do I need a CT scan?
Your doctor may recommend a CT scan to diagnose fractures, breaks, or tumors in the bones, tears in the muscle, or blood clots or infections.
How long do CT scans take?
A CT scan typically lasts 15-90 minutes. Without contrast, it can take as little as 15 minutes. If you get a CT scan with contrast, it can take up to an hour and a half.
What does “with contrast mean for a CT scan?
During a CT scan with contrast, a gadolinium- or iodine-based dye is injected into your arm prior to the procedure for better visualization of your internal organs. “Without contrast” refers to CT scans done without this dye.
Protocols are the details and plans that describe how a specific procedure will be performed. For CT scans, this usually means whether the imaging is performed with or without contrast. However, certain body parts may include other protocol options as well.
If you already have a referral, the type of protocol you need should be written directly on it. If you don’t have a referral, you can book one through Tripment Health.
With Contrast – An CT scan with contrast helps radiologists get a better picture of what’s going on inside your body. Contrast can highlight abnormalities and also improve the overall clarity of the images, thus improving the accuracy of the procedure. CT scans contrast are often ordered to examine blood flow, inflammation, and tumors.
If you order an CT scan with contrast, you will be injected with a gadolinium- or iodine-based dye before the imaging procedure begins. Although it is rare, some patients report mild nausea, dizziness, or even skin rashes, though these symptoms typically resolve within an hour. Your body will eliminate this dye over the next few days, either by absorbing it or expeling it through urination.
Without Contrast – An CT scan without contrast simply means you are not injected with the contrast dye. These CT scans are most often ordered to examine your organs and bones after injury, or when a patient has low-functioning kidneys or is pregnant.
With and without contrast – By selecting “with and without contrast,” your search will include results from imaging centers who provide both types of CT scans.
Angiogram – If your provider wants to get a better visualization of your arteries, veins, and heart, she can order an angiogram. This is most often used to find restrictions of blood flow to the heart. During this procedure, a contrast dye is injected to give your provider a clear image of your heart and surrounding blood vessels.
Arthrogram – Arthrograms are used to study joints. During arthrography, a doctor injects the contrast dye directly into the joint, then a series of images are taken of the joint in multiple positions. This can help reveal tears in the soft tissue, or other damage.
Low-Dose Coronary Screening – Coronary screenings, or heart scans, are done to provide detailed images of your heart, and to locate plaque buildup in your arteries. This is used to diagnose coronary artery disease and other cardiac issues. You will be given a low dose of a contrast agent (either by pill or injection) to produce the clearest, most reliable images.
Scanogram leg-length – This type of CT scan focuses solely on the legs, to determine whether or not the bones in one leg are longer than the other. This procedure is most commonly performed on children, but can be used for patients of any age.
How do I prepare for a CT scan?
A CT scan, or CAT scan, is another name for computerized tomography —- an imaging procedure that uses X-rays to create a cross-sectional image (slices) of the body. Depending on the part of your body being scanned, your doctor may ask you to fast or refrain from drinking for a few hours before the procedure. Once you get to the imaging center, your doctor will ask you to remove all metal objects from your body, like jewelry, hairpins, or change from your pockets.
Preparing for a CT scan with contrast
During a CT scan with contrast, a gadolinium- or iodine-based dye is injected into your arm prior to the procedure for better visualization of your internal organs. “Without contrast” refers to CT scans done without this dye. You would prepare for this procedure the same way you would prepare for a CT scan without contrast, except you will also receive an injection.
Most diagnostic imaging services require a referral. Let us help you find one!
While CT scans do expose you to small doses of radiation, the dosage is so low that the risk of developing cancer from it cannot reliably be measured. CT scans have been linked to a higher life expectancy and declining cancer death rates as they are able to discover and catch abnormalities. They are also less invasive and safer than many other procedures, such as exploratory surgery.
There are no side effects of a CT scan. Patients can immediately resume their everyday activities. For patients who have been given a contrast material, scanning centers might advise drinking plenty of water for 24 hours following the scan.
CT scan results usually will be reviewed by a radiologist within 24 hours of the scan. Next, the doctor will prepare a report explaining the results. After the health care provider’s and radiologist’s review, an appointment or call is scheduled with the patient to discuss the results.
CT scans and MRIs have similar uses. However, the way they produce images is different. CT scans utilize X-rays while MRIs utilize radio and magnetic waves. CT scans are more common because they are more affordable while still providing good detail. MRIs are used when doctors need more accurate and detailed images of the body. MRIs are usually used to diagnose issues with bones, organs, and joints.
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