A CT scan, also called a CAT scan, computed axial tomography scan, or computed tomography scan, is an advanced X-ray test that creates layered, 3D images of a body area. CT scans are a quick, accurate way for your emergency care team to see your bones, joints, and spine and the organs inside your chest, abdomen, pelvis, and head.
Our expert emergency doctors at Dignity Health emergency rooms often use CT scans throughout the Sacramento region to diagnose your medical needs and apply the appropriate emergency care. In an emergency, call 911 or come to your nearest Dignity Health location. CT scans given as part of emergency services are at the clinical team’s request only.
Do I Need a CT Scan?
Our experienced doctors, nurses, and staff use CT scans to:
- Diagnose the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, vision and speech changes, and abdominal pain
- Scan patients for organ damage, fractures, and internal bleeding from car accidents and other trauma
- Plan surgery and monitor treatment, including cancer surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and organ transplant
- Guide procedures such as cancer treatment, biopsy, and abscess drainage
What to Expect from a CT or Cat Scan at Dignity Health
When you have a CT scan, you lie on a table that slowly moves through a large ring-shaped machine. The machine goes around one part of your body at a time — but it does not completely enclose you. The technician may ask you to hold your breath or hold still at certain times while the scanner takes pictures.
Sometimes a contrast dye is necessary to help your health care provider better see certain body areas. Your technician may give you this dye by mouth, by injection, or with an enema.
CT scans carry a slightly increased risk of cancer because the scanner exposes you to radiation. The benefits of CT scans generally outweigh this risk. In rare cases, CT contrast dye can cause allergic reactions.
What Do My CT Results Mean?
CT scans help our emergency doctors diagnose:
- Bone and joint conditions such as fractures, herniated disc, and arthritis
- Blood vessel problems such as blood clots and aneurysms
- Tumors, including cancer and benign masses
- Internal bleeding such as bleeding from organ or blood vessel damage
- Infections such as appendicitis and abscesses
- Heart and lung conditions such as coronary artery disease and pneumonia
- Gastrointestinal conditions such as gallstones, inflammation, and infection
One of our trusted professionals will share the results of your CT scan with you as soon as possible and discuss your treatment options, including referrals to specialists. Our teams use the more advanced technologies to offer you high-quality, personalized care that promotes your entire well-being.
Dignity Health offers CT scans in the Greater Sacramento area as part of our 24/7 emergency services.