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Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

A computed tomography scan (CT scan) uses computers and rotating X-ray machines to create cross-sectional images of your body. These images provide more detailed information than normal X-ray images. CT scan can visualize in detail:

  • Bones.
  • Head.
  • Spine.
  • Heart.
  • Joints.
  • Chest.
  • Soft tissues.
  • Abdomen.
  • Blood vessels.

During a CT scan, you lie in a tunnel-like machine while the inside of the machine rotates and takes a series of X-rays from different positions. These pictures are sent to a computer, where they combine slices, or cross-sections, of your body to create a 3-D image.

Who is eligible for a computed tomography (CT) scan?

A CT scan has many uses, but it’s particularly well-suited for diagnosing diseases and evaluating injuries. CT scans can help your doctor:

  • Locate masses and tumors.
  • Examine internal injuries or bleeding.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of treatments.
  • Study internal structures like blood vessels.
  • Map parts of the body to help plan surgeries and biopsies.
  • Diagnose infections, muscle disorders, and bone fractures.

What conditions can be diagnosed by a computed tomography (CT) scan?

CT scan results are considered normal if the radiologist didn’t see any abnormalities in the images. If any abnormalities are seen, you may need further tests or treatments, depending on what is found.

How do I prepare for a CT Scan?

Depending on which part of your body is being scanned, you may be asked to:

  • Take off some or all of your clothing and wear a hospital gown.
  • Remove metal objects like jewelry, dentures, belt, and eyeglasses.
  • Refrain from eating or drinking for a few hours before your scan, especially if your doctor plans on using a contrast dye.

What should I expect during my computed tomography (CT) Scan?

Your doctor may give you a special contrast dye to see internal structures more clearly on the X-ray images. The dye may be put up your rectum, swallowed, or injected into a vein in your arm, depending on what part of your body is being scanned.

You’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown and lie face up on a table that slides into the CT scanner. The health provider goes into the control room to see images from the CT scan of your body. You can communicate with them through an intercom.

While the table slowly moves you into the scanner, the X-ray machine will rotate around you. Each rotation produces different images of your body. The entire procedure can take 20 minutes to one hour.

You must lie still, so the pictures don't blur. Your doctor may ask you to hold your breath at some points. If a young child is getting a CT scan, they may need a sedative to stay still.

Once the CT scan is over, the images are sent to a radiologist who will analyze them. A radiologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing conditions by analyzing images. Your doctor will explain the results to you.

Why choose Presbyterian for a computed tomography (CT) Scan?

Presbyterian’s Heart and Vascular team has many different options to help you manage your heart condition. The team performs various diagnostic tests and procedures to help form an accurate diagnosis and create individualized treatment plans for your heart health needs. Depending on the type of heart condition you have and its underlying cause, the team can recommend a wide variety of treatment options, including lifestyle modifications, medications, and procedures. Our cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons work closely together for cases in which surgery is the best treatment option. We also offer a customized cardiac rehabilitation program at our Healthplex, where clinically appropriate, which can improve your endurance and exercise tolerance, as well as improve heart-related symptoms. Your cardiologist will work with the rehabilitation team to create a plan that will be tailored to your individual health needs.