Detailed CT images help diagnose medical conditions  that may not be seen with conventional x-rays. Computed Tomography (CT)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is computed tomography?
What is spiral or helical CT?
How does CT work?
What do I need to do to prepare for the procedure?
What can I expect during the CT procedure?
What do the results from a CT scan look like?
How safe is CT?
Where can I get my CT scan?

What is computed tomography?
GE Lightspeed 64-VCT Computed Tomography (CT) ScannerComputed tomography (also known as CT or CAT scan) is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of low-dose x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images or slices of the body. These detailed images help diagnose medical conditions that may not be seen with conventional x-rays. CT is typically used to evaluate internal organs of the head, chest, abdomen, or pelvis, but is also useful in evaluating bone pathology, including tumors and fractures.
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What is spiral or helical CT?
Spiral or helical CT is an advanced imaging technology that scans the body in rotational fashion, similar to conventional CT units. Because the rotational movement of the x-ray tube and horizontal movement of the table occur simultaneously, spiral CT can obtain more information in a shorter period of time. The advantages of spiral CT over conventional CT include a more rapid scanning time, a lower dose of radiation, and better images. In addition, this type of CT can usually be performed with a few breath-holds instead of one for each image or slice. As a result, patient comfort and tolerance are increased.
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How does CT work?
During the study, the patient lies on a table that slides into the circular opening of the CT unit. Within the circular opening are x-ray tubes and detectors. As the scanner rotates around the patient, low-dose x-rays pass through the body and are absorbed differently by various structures. The detectors record the x-rays that are absorbed by the tissues and this information is sent to the computer. The computer converts this data into an image displayed on a video screen.
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What do I need to do to prepare for the procedure?
Depending on the type of study you will be having, there are certain preparatory requirements. If your CT scan requires preparation, someone from our staff will call you to give you complete instructions before your appointment. If at any time you have questions about your preparation, please do not hesitate to call the office where you will be having your CT scheduled. We recommend that you wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your appointment.
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What can I expect during the CT procedure?
Before your procedure, you will be asked to remove eyeglasses, earrings, hairpins, or other metal objects. If you are having CT of the head, you may wear your own clothing. Otherwise, you will be asked to change into an examination gown.

Your CT scan will be performed by a registered radiologic technologist who will explain the procedure to you. Depending on which part of the body is being studied, a contrast medium containing iodine may be injected to help the blood vessels, organs, and any abnormalities stand out. It is very important to alert the technologist to any medical or nonmedical allergies before receiving IV contrast. For studies of the abdomen or pelvis, you may be given diluted barium to drink before the scan, which fills the bowel with contrast.

In the CT suite, the technologist will position you on the table of the CT scanner which will slide into the large doughnut-shaped hole of the scanner. The technologist will give simple directions during the study and you will be asked to relax and lie as still as possible. It is important to remain still because movement of the body will blur the images, which decreases the accuracy of the study. It is normal to hear clicking and other mechanical noises during the procedure. CT scans can take between 10 to 60 minutes, depending on the study that is being performed.

Once the necessary images have been recorded by the computer, the radiologist will check them to determine if additional images are needed. At this time, the radiologist and/or technologist can answer any questions you have regarding your CT scan. The study will then be interpreted in more detail by the radiologist, with the results forwarded to your referring physician. Your physician will make a diagnosis and then relay the results of the CT scan to you.
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What do the results from a CT scan look like?
CT ScanCT Scan
CT ScanCT Scan

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How safe is CT?
Because CT involves x-rays, radiation exposure is a risk. However, the amount of radiation received during spiral CT is low. The benefits of having the CT scan greatly outweigh the minimal health risks. These benefits include high accuracy and earlier detection of even the smallest abnormalities.
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Where can I get my CT scan?
Diagnostic Imaging Associates offers CT scanning at the following locations: Pike Creek, Brandywine, Omega, and Glasgow. To schedule an appointment, please call our Central Scheduling Center at (302) 369-4342.
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