West Coast Radiology
Computerized Tomography (CT)
What is a CT scan?
A CT scan is an advanced type of X-ray exam. Multiple X-rays are taken rapidly from a number of different angles around the body and then arranged by a high-speed computer into a cross-sectional view of internal organs.
For some CT scans, the radiologist injects a contrast medium or dye to highlight certain tissues for closer examination. This type of scan helps differentiate between healthy and diseased tissue, making it possible to accurately diagnose many diseases in their early stages.
When is a CT scan used?
CT scanning is generally used when your doctor needs more detailed diagnostic information than is possible from regular X-ray studies.
Easy Come, Easy Go
Click here to find out how to get ready for any type of CT exam, so that your visit is as efficient as possible.Prepare
What happens during a CT scan procedure?
After the technologist obtains your medical history, you will change into a gown and be positioned onto the table for the scan. You will feel the table move after each scan and may hear a whirring noise or high-pitched beep.
To get the most precise results, the technologist may ask you to hold your breath for a short time. Do lie as still as possible to avoid blurring the images. You will be able to communicate with the technologist at all times during your scan, which will take from 10 to 15 minutes.
You may leave immediately after your CT scan. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, for the next 24 hours to help flush the contrast medium from your body. The radiologist will review your scans and send the results to your physician. Urgent findings will be called or faxed in to your physician.
What are the benefits and risks of a CT scan?
CT scans are among the safest exams we do. Your body will be exposed to a very small amount of radiation. If you are pregnant, you should not have a CT scan without first discussing the risks with your doctor. There is a small risk you will have an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Be sure to tell your health care provider if you know you are allergic to any medications or chemicals such as iodine. We are prepared to handle immediately any allergic reaction you might have.
What are my CT scan options?
We perform a number of different CT exams, as part of our full range of diagnostic imaging services. Your doctor will advise you on which type of CT is appropriate for you. The list below provides information on your particular scan.
This is an accurate and noninvasive imaging modality used to assess and evaluate certain gastrointestinal problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s Disease), infectious enteritis, lymphoma or tuberculosis. It also can be used in patients with occult gastrointestinal bleeding to determine if a small bowel polyp is causing the bleeding. Before a CTE scan, you will drink approximately one liter of a water-like solution over the course of an hour and receive an intravenous injection of contrast medium to help the radiologist better evaluate your small and large bowel. It is otherwise similar to the standard CT discussed on this page.
New research from the National Cancer Institute
shows CT lung screening reduces lung cancer deaths by 20%. Lung cancer CT
screening is one of the most accurate diagnostic tools for finding lung cancer at an early stage, when it is most treatable. CT scans of the lung are able to detect small abnormalities in the lungs that could be the beginning stages of lung cancer. These indicators are often not visible on a routine chest X-ray. Since a CT lung screening offers the best opportunity for successful treatment of lung cancer before
symptoms are noticed, more physicians are opting for lung cancer screening based on risk factors (like smoking and family history), rather than symptoms. Logistics are similar to the standard CT discussed on this page.
A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows a doctor to look inside the entire large intestine for things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. It is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum or to look for causes for unexplained changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or weight loss. Instead of a traditional colonoscopy, requiring sedation and insertion of a guided video camera into the rectum, the virtual colonoscopy at our facility is non-invasive and comfortable for the patient. A high-resolution CT scanner painlessly examines the colon and produces multi-dimensional views that can reveal the presence of even the smallest abnormalities. No pain medication, sedative or recovery is necessary.
Our advanced, ultra high-speed CT angiography technology pinpoints abnormalities in the coronary arteries (such as a blockage or plaque build-up), even in the absence of classic symptoms like pain, shortness of breath or numbness. Instead of a standard angiogram, which requires sedation, threading of a catheter, and pain management, a CT angiogram assembles a cross-sectional view of the heart and arteries in five minutes. It is non-invasive, painless, and accurate, with no recovery necessary for the patient. An opaque dye is injected to illuminate the arteries.
This procedure is done as part of a sophisticated high-speed CT exam of the heart called a CT Angiogram. During the scan, which takes just seconds, the equipment measures the amount of calcium present and calculates a score. The lower the score, the lower the risk of a cardiac incident. (Calcium covers the plaque that builds up inside artery walls.) This test can assess coronary heart disease, which is often asymptomatic and is still the most common cause of death for Americans. If you have two or more of the following risk factors, discuss having this test with your doctor:
- male over 45
- high blood pressure
- female over 55
- high stress lifestyle
- smoker or second hand exposure
- sedentary lifestyle
- high cholesterol
- family history of coronary artery disease
A whole body scan can be appropriate for a high-risk patient with a history of heart disease, cancer, smoking, hypertension, or diabetes, or one who has been exposed to hazardous chemicals. The prime benefit of whole body scanning is the ability to locate and diagnose a disease process that can be effectively treated if found early, such as gall stones, degenerative and arthritic changes of the spine, kidney stones, abnormal lymph nodes and many other issues. Logistics are similar to the standard CT discussed on this page.
The high-resolution medical images in 3D show a remarkable real-life appearance of your internal organs. The technology is far advanced over traditional CT imaging and provides excellent diagnostic information. Whole body scanning, coronary artery calcium scoring, virtual colonoscopy, lung screening, heart scanning—these are the advanced 3D imaging procedures available to patients at our facilities.