CT scans are an advanced diagnostic tool that gives doctors a better view of a patient’s whole body. CT scans provide cross-sectional images of the body and allow doctors to really focus and examine one area of the body.
Benefits Of A CT Or CAT Scan
Unlike an X-ray that only shows bone, CT scans reveal all of your tissues and organs in a precise manner. CT scanners use X-ray technology but have the ability to rotate around the body. A powerful computer creates multiple cross-sectional (slices) images of the body so doctors can analyze internal structures after a traumatic injury or illness.
Our State of the Art 64 slice CT scanner features advanced capabilities that provide the highest level of patient care and comfort. Mercy Mt. Shasta proudly offers the latest advances in low radiation dose imaging. Now, radiologists can use breakthrough technology to create quality images from a low radiation dose. Computed Tomography has revolutionized diagnostic medicine. This advanced x-ray technique allows your doctor and radiologist to view bones, organs, blood vessels and even your heart, in extraordinary detail. This information helps doctors diagnose a wide variety of conditions with the least amount of radiation dose.
- CT 3 Phase Liver
- CT 3 Phase Pancreas
- CT Abdomen or Abdomen & Pelvis
- CT Angiogram
- CT Bone Density
- CT Bone Length
- CT Brain/Head
- CT Calcium Scoring
- CT Chest
- CT Extremities
- CT Facial Bones
- CT IVP
- CT Kidney Stone/Renal Colic Stone
- CT Orbits
- CT Pelvis
- CT Renal
- CT Sinuses
- CT Soft Tissue Neck
- CT Spine
- CT Urogram/GUCT/IVP
- CTA Renal Arteries
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a CT scan?
A CT scan (also called CAT scan), stands for Computerized Tomography. CT scans use X-rays to make detailed pictures of the internal structures of your body in cross section like slices of the inside of your body. During the test, you will lie on the table that is attached to the scanner, which is a large doughnut-shaped machine. The CT scanner sends X-rays through the body area being studied.
How long will my CT exam take?
Depending on the type of exam you will receive, the length of the actual procedure will typically be between 10 to 30 minutes. Exam time may vary depending on the nature of your study.
What happens after the CT scan and when will results be provided?
The Radiologist will study your images and dictate the findings. Once the images have been read, your physician will receive the report to review with you.
Why do I need to drink contrast?
The oral contrast fills the colon and small bowel for better visualization on the images.
Why do I need the IV contrast?
The IV contrast enhances all of the vascular structures on the images (i.e. liver, pancreas, kidneys). It will also characterize potential pathology.
Could I have a reaction to the IV contrast?
Yes, but the chances are minimal. It has the same risk for reaction as any medication does, which is why we use contrast screening forms—to flag possible patients who are at risk for having a reaction to the contrast.
Why is a head CT done most frequently without IV?
Most pathology can be detected in the brain without IV contrast. If there is suspicion, contrast may be given or a MRI might be suggested for further evaluation.
Is it ok that I took my medication(s) this morning before I came?
Yes. Any type of medication is fine to take the morning of your exam. For patients who are NPO, please do not take medication 2 hours before your exam. If you take a certain kind of diabetic medication, you may be asked to withhold for 48 hours after the exam.
What is this test going to show?
A CT scan is a good way to image and evaluate bones, internal organs, the brain and vascular structures within the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis.
- A CT scanner looks like a large, box-like machine with a short tunnel in the center. In addition, CT scanners typically have an examination table that slides in and out of the tunnel, while an x-ray tube and electronic x-ray detectors rotate around you.
- A technologist will be operating the CT scanner in an adjoining control room, with the ability to maintain visual contact through a window and hear or talk to you over a speaker and microphone.
- For a CT scan, you will lie on the examination table while it slowly moves through the center of the machine. While getting a CT scan is not painful, lying still on the table during the scan can be a bit uncomfortable. It is important to remain still during the CT scan, as, any motion, whether breathing or body movements, can lead to a loss of image quality that is visible in the form of blurring. This is why the CT technologist may ask you to hold your breath during certain parts of the scan.
- The timing of the procedure can vary, but it usually takes less than 30 minutes, depending on the type of CT exam being performed. The exposure time of the scanning itself takes only seconds, this is helpful to all patients but especially for the critically ill, the elderly, and for children, since it can be difficult to remain still. In fact, many CT scanners are fast enough that children do not require sedation, but in special cases, sedation may be needed for those who cannot hold still.
- Be aware that some CT scans may require the use of a contrast material to enhance visibility in the area of the body being examined. Contrast material may be swallowed, or be administered through an intravenous line (IV).
- There is a small amount of radiation exposure associated with CT scans. For children, the scanner parameters are adjusted to their size so that the scan can be done with a reduced dose. We also have technology that is used to further lower the level of radiation dose for a CT procedure called iterative reconstruction.
- Once the examination is complete, you will have to wait until the technologist verifies the image quality of your scans for an accurate interpretation. Your CT image results are then reviewed and analyzed by a radiologist who will send an official report to your referring doctor. Your doctor will then discuss your results with you.
How to Best Prepare for Your CT Scan
Even though you may be asked to change into a gown once you show up for your procedure, consider wearing comfortable and loose-fit clothing. You will be given instructions on removing the following objects, as these may affect CT images:
- Metal objects, including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures, and hairpins
- Hearing aids and removable dental work
- Bras containing metal underwire
- Remove any piercings, if possible
If contrast material is used during your procedure, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything for a few hours beforehand.
You will want to inform the technologist and facility performing the CT procedure the following information:
- If you are on any medication
- If you have any allergies to food coloring or dyes, as contrast material may contain such ingredients.
- Note: Contact your referring doctor if you are allergic to IV contrast used for CT procedures, he may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of allergic reactions, which will need to be taken ahead of time, usually about 12 hours before contrast material. Contact your doctor well before the exact time of your CT scan to avoid any unnecessary delays.
- Of any recent illnesses or medical conditions
- Of any history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems (these conditions may increase the risk of an unusual adverse effect).
- Women should always inform their physician and the CT technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant.
After this, try to relax during your CT scan, the technologist are professional and will address any questions that you may have prior to the CT scan. Thinking positive thoughts, can help pass the time quickly.
We are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call (530) 926-9359 to make an appointment.
Question about Your Exam?
If you have a question about your exam, please call our department at (530) 926-9335.