CT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

WHAT IS A CT SCAN?


Computed Tomography (CT) is a specialized imaging tool that uses a combination of X-rays to create cross-sectional images of the body. It is a fast scan and allows detailed imaging of body organs, bones and other internal tissues.




HOW DOES A CT SCAN WORK?


A narrow X-ray beam circles around one part of your body. This provides a series of images from many different angles. A computer uses this information to create a cross-sectional picture. Like one piece in a loaf of bread, this two-dimensional (2D) scan shows a “slice” of the inside of your body. This process is repeated to produce a number of slices. The computer stacks these scans one on top of the other to create a detailed image of your organs, bones, or blood vessels. For example, a surgeon may use this type of scan to look at all sides of a tumor to prepare for an operation.




WHAT ARE THE CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF CT SCAN?


CT scan are used to identify lesions, tumors and metastasis. It also allows to identify the size of the lesions, spatial location and its extend. CT scan is used for a wide variety of reasons such as identifying blood clot, detecting tumors and fractures, and help monitor the effectiveness of certain treatments, such as kidney stone and cancer treatment.




WHO SHOULD GET A CT SCAN?


Traditionally, the primary care physician or specialist will decide if a CT scan is warranted. CT scan has capability of facilitating precise diagnosis, treatment staging, monitoring and evaluation of disease spread and/or treatment outcomes of cancer, neurological disorders and/or heart diseases.




WHAT IS THE CT SCAN PROCEDURE LIKE?


A CT Scan procedure takes around 15 to 30 minutes depending on the examination. Some procedure require intravenous contrast media depending on the type of scan and diagnosis of patient. If required, patient would be required to fast 4 hours before the. Patient would be required to lie on the CT table. During the scan, the table will slowly moves in and out of the doughnut-shaped CT machine. Minimal movement is advised and patient might require to follow breathing instructions. The speaker will be on, in case of any necessary communication with the monitoring radiographer in the neighbouring control room across the lead glass.




WHAT, IF ANY, IS THE RADIATION RISK INVOLVED FOR CT SCAN?


It is important to note that while radiation is being used in CT scans, minimal doses of radiation is being used in the imaging. The risk of developing cancer from CT scan is so small that it cannot be reliably measured. In general, the diagnostic benefits of a CT scan usually outweighs the risk of the radiation exposure. Speak to your clinician or radiographer if you still have concerns. Pregnant women are discouraged for a PET/CT scan unless otherwise requested by physician.




ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS OR PAIN AS A RESULT OF A CT SCAN?


CT scan is a non-invasive outpatient procedure. Typically painless, except for the injection which causes needle-pricking sensation, there is no side effect experienced from the CT scan. Unless your scan requires the administration of contrast media, here is a list on contraindications to the iodinated contrast media that are used. Patients should inform the doctor or radiographer if they have the following: -history of drug allergies (especially if patient have history of allergy to contrast media from previous examinations or allergy to Iodine) -any kidney problems -asthma -diabetes The clinician might prescribe a medication to you before the examination date (if required) to reduce the risk of allergy to contrast media from CT scan or convert to a non-contrasted scan, depends on the severity of the patient’s medical history.




WHO SHOULD NOT GET A CT SCAN?


Pregnant women are discouraged for a CT scan unless otherwise requested by physician.




WHAT ADVANTAGE DOES A CT SCAN HAVE IN THE DIAGNOSIS OF CANCER OR OTHER SERIOUS ILLNESS?


CT scan is useful in the examination of one or both of the kidneys to detect a variety of conditions such as tumors or other lesions, obstructive conditions, such as kidney stones, congenital anomalies, polycystic kidney disease, accumulation of fluid around the kidneys, and the location of abscesses.




WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CT SCAN AND MRI SCAN?


CT uses X-rays to create diagnostic images for the examination while MRI scans uses magnetic field and radio waves. CT examinations are usually preferred as its duration of examination is short and is cheaper than MRI scans. In addition, claustrophobic patients usually can tolerate CT scan procedure due to the short duration of scan and is much quieter.





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