Computerized Tomography (CT)

How does CT work?

An advanced type of X-ray exam, computerized tomography takes multiple pictures of internal body parts and uses advanced processing software to create cross-sectional images of internal tissues, organs and body structures. Each X-ray image produced during CT shows internal body parts, like a heart or lung, in a thin slice. These slices can be rearranged to create three-dimensional representations of body parts being examined.

Why is CT performed?

There are numerous applications for CT in medicine. CT can produce high-resolution images that provide additional details unattainable through traditional X-ray. CT can also be used to image most parts of the body, including the heart, head, lungs, heart, blood vessels, abdomen and limbs.

CT is commonly used to help diagnose traumatic injuries to bones and bone disorders, inspect for tumors, perform interventional procedures and track existing health conditions.

Commonly performed CT procedures include:

  • Thorax CT, or chest CT, which can help to detect potential problems, like lung cancer, pulmonary embolism or aneurysm, with the heart or lungs.
  • Abodominal CT, which can help detect infection, cysts, abscesses, bleeding, inflammation and other conditions affecting the abdominal region.
  • CT urogram, or urinary tract CT, which can help to detect conditions affecting the bladder, ureters and kidneys.
Prepare

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Click here to find out how to get ready for any type of CT exam, so that your visit is as efficient as possible.

Prepare

What to expect during a CT scan

Most CT procedures are generally performed by a radiologic technician and CT exam results are interpreted by a radiologist, who will provide a report to you and your physician. During the exam, you will be positioned on an examination table attached to the CT scanner, which will move around your body taking X-ray images as it progresses. A CT scan generally takes several minutes. Being scanned is painless, although patients are required to remain motionless during the exam. An injectable contrast dye may also be used depending on the procedure being performed.

Although preparation steps vary on a case-by-case basis, there are several general steps patients can take to prepare for a CT scan:

  • Patients should inform their physicians if they are or might pregnant, if they have allergies or if they have any existing health conditions.
  • Patients should wear comfortable clothing in case they are asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • Patients should avoid eating prior to a CT as indicated by their physicians.
This is an accurate and noninvasive imaging modality used to assess and evaluate certain gastrointestinal problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s Disease), infectious enteritis, lymphoma or tuberculosis. It also can be used in patients with occult gastrointestinal bleeding to determine if a small bowel polyp is causing the bleeding. Before a CTE scan, you will drink approximately one liter of a water-like solution over the course of an hour and receive an intravenous injection of contrast medium to help the radiologist better evaluate your small and large bowel. It is otherwise similar to the standard CT discussed on this page.
New research from the National Cancer Institute shows CT lung screening reduces lung cancer deaths by 20%. Lung cancer CT screening is one of the most accurate diagnostic tools for  finding lung cancer at an early stage, when it is most treatable. CT scans of the lung are able to detect small abnormalities in the lungs that could be the beginning stages of lung cancer. These indicators are often not visible on a routine chest X-ray. Since a CT lung screening offers the best opportunity for successful treatment of lung cancer before symptoms are noticed, more physicians are opting for lung cancer screening based on risk factors (like smoking and family history), rather than symptoms. Logistics are similar to the standard CT discussed on this page.
A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows a doctor to look inside the entire large intestine for things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. It is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum or to look for causes for unexplained changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or weight loss. Instead of a traditional colonoscopy, requiring sedation and insertion of a guided video camera into the rectum, the virtual colonoscopy at our facility is non-invasive and comfortable for the patient. A high-resolution CT scanner painlessly examines the colon and produces multi-dimensional views that can reveal the presence of even the smallest abnormalities. No pain medication, sedative or recovery is necessary.
Our advanced, ultra high-speed CT angiography technology pinpoints abnormalities in the coronary arteries (such as a blockage or plaque build-up), even in the absence of classic symptoms like pain, shortness of breath or numbness. Instead of a standard angiogram, which requires sedation, threading of a catheter, and pain management, a CT angiogram assembles a cross-sectional view of the heart and arteries in five minutes. It is non-invasive, painless, and accurate, with no recovery necessary for the patient. An opaque dye is injected to illuminate the arteries.
This procedure is done as part of a sophisticated high-speed CT exam of the heart called a CT Angiogram. During the scan, which takes just seconds, the equipment measures the amount of calcium present and calculates a score.  The lower the score, the lower the risk of a cardiac incident. (Calcium covers the plaque that builds up inside artery walls.) This test can assess coronary heart disease, which is often asymptomatic and is still the most common cause of death for Americans. If you have two or more of the following risk factors, discuss having this test with your doctor:

  • male over 45
  • high blood pressure
  • female over 55
  • high stress lifestyle
  • smoker or second hand exposure
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • high cholesterol
  • obesity
  • family history of coronary artery disease
  • diabetes
A whole body scan can be appropriate for a high-risk patient with a history of heart disease, cancer, smoking, hypertension, or diabetes, or one who has been exposed to hazardous chemicals. The prime benefit of whole body scanning is the ability to locate and diagnose a disease process that can be effectively treated if found early, such as gall stones, degenerative and arthritic changes of the spine, kidney stones, abnormal lymph nodes and many other issues. Logistics are similar to the standard CT discussed on this page.
The high-resolution medical images in 3D show a remarkable real-life appearance of your internal organs. The technology is far advanced over traditional CT imaging and provides excellent diagnostic information. Whole body scanning, coronary artery calcium scoring, virtual colonoscopy, lung screening, heart scanning—these are the advanced 3D imaging procedures available to patients at our facilities.
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