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Accessing the Brain with Neurological CT Scan

A neurological CT (computed tomography) scan create images using ionizing radiation (X-rays).
This noninvasive imaging test is used to look at structures in your brain and spinal cord. 

Dignity Health hospitals in the Bay Area offer a wide range of neurology and neurosurgery services, including diagnostic testing, at our advanced hospitals and imaging centers. To receive a neurological CT scan in the Bay Area, use our online Find a Doctor tool and make an appointment today.

Why Our Neurologists Perform Neurological CT Scans

Neurological CT scan tests are used to diagnose many brain and spine conditions, including:

These tests may be performed with or without the injection of contrast dye. In certain situations, a lumbar puncture procedure (fluid injection) may be done with the neurological CT scan to highlight the spinal canal structures.

What to Expect During a Neurological CT Scan

A neurological CT scan can be performed at one of our hospitals or imaging centers. You’ll lie on a table that slides through the opening of the CT scanner. To get clear images, you’ll be asked to lie as still as possible during the procedure. Some people feel mildly claustrophobic during the procedure. If this happens, you can request to be sedated.

If you don’t receive contrast dye, a neurological CT scan is a noninvasive procedure that takes no more than an hour. If contrast dye is used, you will receive it through an intravenous (IV) injection. Some people report feeling hot or cold, or noticing a metallic taste as the contrast dye first flows through the body. You should report any unusual symptoms to the technician.

If a lumbar puncture is done with the neurological CT scan, you may have some moderate but temporary discomfort from the removal of spinal fluid. This procedure takes about an hour, including recovery time.

Recovering from a Neurological CT Scan

Neurological CT scans are considered very safe and don’t require any recovery time. You may return to your normal activities after the CT scan is complete.

If you also had a lumbar puncture, you may need to lay flat on your back for a little while after the procedure, then rest when you go home. Headache is the most common complication of a lumbar puncture. Let your doctor know if you experience: 

  • Bleeding from the puncture site 
  • Headache that lasts more than a few hours
  • Numbness or tingling in your legs
  • Other unusual symptoms

Dignity Health provides comprehensive diagnostic testing, including neurological CT scans, in the Bay Area.