Computer Tomography (CT)
The Computer Tomography, otherwise known as a CT Scan, has revolutionized medicine as it allows physicians today to detect diseases that, in the past, could often only be found during surgery or an autopsy. Now, JFK Radiologists use state of the art Low Dose Technology (ASiR) and prudent scanning protocols to perform low-dose CT scans without compromising image quality — while reducing the radiation dose up to 50 percent whenever possible. It provides a highly-detailed look at many different parts of the body for effective diagnosis and treatment of disease and medical conditions.
The FDA has regulations covering the safety, effectiveness and radiation control of all X-ray imaging devices, including CT. The individual risk from a necessary imaging exam is quite small when compared to the benefit of aiding accurate diagnosis or intervention. Because of concerns regarding radiation exposure, JFK has invested in Adaptive Statistical iterative Reconstruction ( ASiR™) technology to help minimize radiation dose to our patients. While it is imperative to provide the safest test possible to all our patients, it is especially important to children, women and those patients requiring repeat CT scans. This new technology allows our radiologists to make the diagnosis while using ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) radiation exposure principles.
What is a CT Scan?
A sophisticated diagnostic device, the CT uses a rotating x-ray device to create detailed, cross-sectional images of internal anatomy from different angles. A computer reconstructs these “slices” to produce three dimensional images called tomograms. A non-invasive procedure, a CT scan obtains images of body parts that cannot be detected with the use of a traditional X-ray.
What can I expect during a CT Scan?
A CT Scan is typically performed in an outpatient setting. The imaging machine resembles a large, square doughnut. The patient lies on a table, which slides into the circular opening and moves forward and backward to accurately position the patient for imaging. The CT scanner is a circular, rotating frame with an X-ray tube mounted on one side and a detector mounted on the other. With each complete rotation of the scanner, a cross-section of the body part in question is acquired. The procedure is performed by a certified radiology technician who will ask the patient to hold his/her breath for a few seconds at a time so that the scanner can collect the targeted data set. A complete scan typically takes anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to complete. During the process, the patient will be able to communicate with the technician via an intercom system.
When is it most appropriate to use a CT Scan for diagnosis?
A superior diagnostic tool for the brain, chest, abdomen, pelvis, spine, sinus and vascular imaging, CT Scans are frequently used to detect and evaluate diverse abnormalities of the body, including the brain, neck, spine, chest abdomen, pelvis, and sinuses. A CT has the ability to image a combination of soft tissue, bone, and blood vessels, making it possible to detect diseases earlier than with a regular X-ray. As such, it can obtain an accurate and earlier diagnosis, resulting in greater success of treatment of many diseases.
What should I do to prepare for the procedure?
On the day of your procedure, you may need to refrain from eating solid food for four hours prior to the appointment. However, a moderate amount of clear liquids is acceptable. There is generally no other special preparation required. You should where comfortable, loose clothing and such things as earrings, glasses, dentures, and belts should be removed so as not to compromise the image. In some cases, you may be asked to where a hospital gown. In some cases, the CT procedure may require that the patient take orally or via injection a contrast agent to enhance the images of the organs and/or blood vessels being studied. As the contrast agent contains iodine, it is important to notify the nurse or technician if you are allergic to iodine.
How safe is a CT Scan?
The contrast agents are considered safe and side effects are uncommon. The new ASiR technology provides minimal radiation exposure with exceptional image quality that is ideal for whole-body imaging and neurological imaging needs. A CT Scan is not done during a pregnancy; if you are pregnant speak with your doctor regarding alternative options for diagnosis.