Most people have had at least one X-ray in the course of their lives. Quick, painless and actually kind of fun to watch, this diagnostic procedure enables doctors to see inside the body to gauge the health of bones and other structures. Many people, however, have never had a CT scan performed.
While it’s perfect normally to be a little nervous when doctors recommend tests outside the norm, there’s nothing to fear from a CT scan. This procedure, known as computerized tomography, creates a series of X-ray images that are taken from different angles. This enables doctors to see cross sectional images of bones, blood vessels and even soft tissues inside the body. Essentially, the scan is designed to deliver more detail than a single X-ray image can provide.
CT scans are ordered for a lot of different reasons. From helping doctors determine the true severity of a bone break to assisting with surgical or radiation treatment, this type of imaging is crucial in modern medicine.
Patients who undergo CT scans will find there’s really not much to the procedure. Although a little more involved than an X-ray, there’s typically not much more involved that staying still so the imaging system can do its job. Getting ready for a CT generally only involves putting on a gown, taking off anything metallic and refraining from eating or drinking a few hours in advance of a scan. If contrasting material is needed to highlight areas of the body in the scan, a patient may have to drink a liquid, get an injection or endure an enema, depending on the part of the body being scanned. Once the contrast is in place, the test itself generally only takes a few minutes and is more or less like sitting through an X-ray.
Going in for a new testing procedure can be a little nerve wracking. If your doctor has ordered a CT scan, there’s no cause for alarm. This simple procedure doesn’t take long and can help your doctor arrive at the correct diagnosis to enable better treatment in your case.