What is CT?
CT stands for Computed Tomography and it is also known as "CAT scanning" (Computed Axial Tomography). CT is fast, patient friendly and has the unique ability to image a combination of soft tissue, bone, and blood vessels. This painless diagnostic procedure uses x-rays (ionizing radiation) and computers to obtain detailed cross-sectional images of the tissues and organs of the body. A CT scan allows the radiologist to see the location, nature, and extent of many different diseases or abnormalities inside your body.
CT is one of the best tools for studying the lungs and abdomen. CT is an invaluable tool in the cancer diagnosis process and is often the preferred method for diagnosing lung, liver and pancreas cancer. CT imaging and CT angiography are finding a greater role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, acute stroke and vascular diseases which can lead to stroke, gangrene or kidney failure. Additionally, CT can be used to measure bone mineral density for the detection of osteoporosis.
What are the risks of a CT scan?
CT uses multiple lose dose x-rays which are taken in sequence by a rotating x-ray tube. The technologist will take special care to ensure maximum radiation safety. In addition, out CT scanners have build in methods of reducing the amount of radiation exposure. The Radiologists of The Imaging Center of Las Cruces adheres to the ALARA program - this is a radiation safety principle for minimizing radiation doses and releases of radioactive materials by employing all reasonable methods. We ensure that radiation doses are As Low As is Reasonably Achievable to obtain the desired results.
Some CT scans require iodine-containing contrast agent to better visualize the organs of the body. Be sure to inform the technologist and your doctor if you are allergic to iodine. The risk of a serious reaction to iodine is rare, however special precautions will be taken if there is a known allergy to iodine. Please inform the technologist and your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or diabetic.
What are the benefits of a CT scan?
CT scans are fast, painless, and non-invasive. They offer a detailed look at the organs of your body which will assist your physician in making a diagnosis. The exam will be read by a Board Certified Radiologist who will provide the results to your ordering physician.
The Imaging Center of Las Cruces counts with State-of-the-Art Toshiba 64 slice CT scanner which has the capability of reducing the total exam time by use of High resolution and low contrast dose. ***
What will my CT experience be like?
You will be asked to lie still on a table for approximately 10-15 minutes and follow any breathing instructions that are appropriate to your exam. The table top will move you through a gantry (shaped like a big doughnut) which houses the x-ray tube and a set of detectors. Images are acquired by detectors that pick up the x-ray that passes through your body. The computer takes this information and puts together a 3-D image of the body. You will be alone in the room as the scan is being performed but the technologist will be able to see and hear you at all times.
Depending on the type of exam, you may be asked to drink a contrast agent or to receive IV contrast. Oral contrast agents are only used for abdominal and pelvic CT exams to aid in the visualization of the stomach and intestines. If your exam requires IV contrast, a small catheter will be placed in a vein in your arm. During the administration of contrast, you may experience a warm sensation throughout your body and/or a metallic taste in your mouth. Not everyone experiences these feelings and any sensation you experience will go away within a few minutes of the injection.
What are the uses and advantages of a CT scan?
CT provides much more detailed information than plain x-rays because they examine the body slice by slice, from all angles, using 3-D imaging. Doctors use CT scans to diagnose and treat a wide variety of problems including trauma, pulmonary embolus, kidney stones, back pain, boney abnormalities, and cancer. CT is also used as a screening tool to detect calcium plaque in the coronary arteries or polyps in the colon.