Common Tests Explained: CT Scan

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CT Scan or Computer Tomography Scan, sometimes called a CAT Scan, is an imaging method that quickly takes 100s of X-rays of a certain part of your body. It then combines them on computer to create very detailed images that show bone, blood vessels, and soft tissues such muscles and ligaments.

There are many reasons your doctor may order a CT Scan of the head. For instance after trauma they may want to check for skull fractures, or bleeding in the brain, or in the other cases to test for brain tumor, strokes, potential causes of seizures, or a blood vessel problem. You should wear comfortable loose fitting clothing to your exam.

You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure. The technician begins by positioning you on the CT examination table, usually lined flat on your back. Once you are in position the table will fly to the center of a doughnut shaped machine which is the CT scanner. At first the table will make a series of quick movements to measure your body and determine the correct starting position.

Then the table moves slowly to the machine to take many pictures on the inside of your head. This will be painless and may take a couple of minutes. You have to hold very still while scanning and in some instances you may be asked to hold your breathe for a few seconds. A CT Scan at the head is usually completed within ten minutes.

A radiologist will evaluate your images and let your doctor know about the results.