High-Speed Spiral CT: Exams & Preparations
What is a CT scan?
Computed tomography, or CT (CAT) scan, is a sophisticated X-ray imaging system that provides cross-sectional x-rays of the body, which are called slices, of the body on all sides; it then combines those slices into a highly detailed, three-dimensional digital image. The procedure is non-invasive, requires minimal radiation exposure and can simultaneously depict tissues of different densities, which is not possible with traditional x-ray methods.
About the Procedure:
CT scans or Computed Tomography were originally developed for diagnosing disorders of the brain, but are now used to image tissues throughout the entire body. Because a CT scan uses an ultra-thin, low dose X-ray beam, radiation exposure is minimized. CT scans also provide greater detail than a regular x-ray and can provide a more detailed visualization of the internal organs and soft tissues. Whereas traditional CT scans obtain one image per second, the ultra-fast spiral CT technology available at San Gabriel Valley Diagnostic Center can produce eight images in the same amount of time. This means that scans of significant body areas and organs can be completed while the patient holds his or her breath. The rapidity of ultra-fast CT is of major benefit to all patients especially those who are ill, claustrophobic or find it difficult to lie still for other reasons.
What to expect when you’re having a CT scan:
When you enter the examination room, you will be asked to lie on the exam table. During the procedure, you will be positioned on the table on your back, side or stomach, and may be provided with pillows for comfortable support. The table will be moved so that the correct part of your body is examined. The technologist will be able to see you at all times and will communicate with you via a two-way microphone. The exam table moves slowly, often undetectably, through the “doughnut” shaped scanner. The X-ray beam inside the CT unit spirals slowly around you on all sides, creating 360-degree images or slices of the area being examined; as the table moves through the unit, many slices are captured. The exam usually takes from 10 to 30 minutes – allowing for preparation as well as time for the computer to generate the images. Actual x-ray exposure time is minimal. Our CT scanners perform spiral scans — the newest and fastest scanning technology available.
What if I need contrast?
Sometimes contrast is required for better visualization and diagnosis. For certain types of examinations, intravenous contrast material may be needed. Depending upon the area of the body being evaluated, you may be asked to drink a flavored mixture, which will aid in the evaluation of your stomach and intestines.