computer tomography

CAT/CT Scans

A CAT Scan or computed tomography (CT), is a medical imaging method that produces a volume of data that can be manipulated (through a process known as windowing) to demonstrate various bodily structures based on their ability to block the x-ray beam. A CAT is created by combining a series of x-ray views taken from different angles. Modern scanners allow for 3-D representations of structures.

What Are CT Scans Commonly Used For?

A CT scan can be used to examine every part of your body, including:

Chest, belly, brain, pelvis, arm, leg, liver, pancreas, intestines, kidneys, bladder, adrenal glands, lungs, heart, blood vessels, bones, and the spinal cord

CT scans are most often used in the medical field but can be used in other industries as well.

During a CT scan, you will be asked to lie flat on a table. The table will be moved through a donut-shaped tube. The tube will move around the body and collect images from a variety of angles. Iodine contrast is sometimes used to make any clots or irregularities more clear.

CT ScanCT scans are often used for emergency situations where quick action is needed, such as possible internal injuries from a car accident or other type of trauma. CT scans can be useful in many situations including:

  • Diagnose muscle and bone disorders
  • Pinpoint the location of a tumor, blood clot or infection
  • Guide procedures such as radiation therapy, biopsy, and surgery
  • Detect internal injuries or internal bleeding
  • Detect and monitor diseases like cancer

During a CT scan, an individual is exposed to much higher levels of radiation than they would while participating in a regular x-ray procedure. Exposure to high radiation levels can potentially increase your risk of developing cancer. Most doctors agree that the benefits of a CT scan far outweigh the potential risks involved. If you are pregnant, be sure to tell your doctor before participating in a CT scan.


CT Scan FAQ's

What is a CT Scan?

Computer Assisted Tomography (CAT), also known as CT (computerized tomography) is an x-ray technique that uses a special scanner to create cross-sectional images of the body and head. This produces “slices” like the slices in a loaf of bread. Our CT scanner performs spiral slices – the newest and fastest scanning technology available.

CT’s can image the internal portion of the organs and separate overlapping structures precisely. Unlike standard x-rays which take a picture of the whole structure being examined, CT has the ability to image that same structure one cross-section or “slice” at a time. This allows the internal body area being examined to be depicted in much greater detail than standard x-rays. CT is also able to provide clear imaging of both soft tissues, such as the brain, as well as dense tissue like bone.

Because a CT scan uses an ultra-thin, low dose x-ray beam, radiation exposure is minimized.

How will I prepare for my CT Scan?

Depending on the area of the body being imaged, you may be asked to drink a flavored mixture called contrast that will aid in the evaluation of your stomach and intestines.

Certain types of studies also require an IV contrast material, which will be administered through a vein (usually in your arm), once you are in the exam room.

If your exam requires an IV contrast material to highlight certain parts of your body, you may feel a warm sensation throughout your body and/or a metallic taste in your mouth once the IV is administered.

What will happen during the exam?

When you enter the exam room, you will be asked to lie on the CT table. The technologist will explain the procedure to you and position you on the scanning table. The table will then move to the center on the part of your body being examined. You will be able to see out both ends of the scanner, and you will be able to talk to your technologist via a two-way microphone. The table will move within the scanner during the exam. It is normal to hear whirring or clicking noises while the exam is being done.

While the exam is being done, all you need to do is relax and remain as still as possible. You may be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time.

How long is the CT scan procedure?

How long your CT procedure lasts depends on the type of scan you need. When contrast material is used, technologists may need additional time to let it move through your system. The actual scan itself can take anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. When no contrast is used, the entire CT scan procedure generally takes about 15 to 30 minutes, which includes the time needed to prepare you.

After your imaging procedure is complete, the results are sent to your doctors within a few hours. Your doctor will then contact you to share the results of your CT scan.

Where should I go for a CT scan?

If you’re not sure where to go for a CT, Envision Radiology is an excellent choice. Included under the Envision Radiology umbrella, Envision Imaging serves patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas, the Tulsa and Claremore areas of Oklahoma, and the Lafayette area of Louisiana. Colorado Springs Imaging serves patients in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We recommend contacting your office of choice ahead of time to ensure that they offer CT scan imaging services, as each location is locally managed. You can also check online through the individual location pages found on our website. Just read the “Services Provided” section to see that location’s full list of offerings.

No matter which of our locations you choose, you will be treated to the same level of professionalism and compassionate care in a comfortable environment designed to put you at ease.

We specialize in various forms of CT Scans, to include:

CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography)

doctor reviewing cat scansA CAT Scan (Computerized Axial Tomography), also referred to as a CT scan, is a computerized x-ray procedure. This provides a three-dimensional scan of the brain and other parts of the body and is used to find irregularities. This technology can be used to help guide surgeons when doing complicated surgeries, determine areas of internal damage, and to pinpoint where a disease, such as cancer, resides in your body.

During a CAT scan, you will lay flat on your back, and your body will be moved through a tube. Many doctors refer to the imaging procedure as a loaf of bread. Each angle could be thought of as a single slice of bread. Doctors can use individual images, or they can be combined into a 3D image for a complete view. The recorded image is called a tomogram. Computerized Axial Tomography refers to the recorded tomogram sections at different levels of the body.

Today the CAT scanner finishes a scan within a few minutes and images can be seen on a monitor almost immediately. Within 30 minutes the entire collection of images can be viewed and copied. This technology is continually getting faster and more advanced.

CT Urography

CT Urography is a specialized radiological examination that is used to evaluate the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, and bladder). This sophisticated technology uses computed tomography (CT) which produces cross-sectional images throughout the body. Detailed images of the internal organs allow physicians to make decisions on the correct course of action to take.

The two main reasons to undergo this procedure are to detect kidney stones and to evaluate patients with blood in their urine. Kidney stones are relatively common and cause problems for patients when they block or obstruct the renal collecting system (ureter). This causes intense pain for the patient and should be assessed right away. Blood in the urine (hematuria) should be dealt with immediately as well. Even if there is no pain, be sure to see a physician right away.

There are no significant risks associated with this type of procedure.

PET (Positron Emission Tomography) CT Scan

A PET-CT scan is an imaging test that allows doctors to see the activity level of certain tissues and organs in the body, in addition to their structure. Before this test, you’ll be given a tracer substance that contains glucose with a small amount of radioactive material attached.

This tracer, which acts as a dye for the imaging test to pick up on, travels through the systems of the body. Areas with high chemical activity pick up more of the dye and produce bright spots on the final image, which alert doctors to potential disease.

The dose of radiation in the tracer is minimal and safe for most people. The tracer will need to be injected, swallowed or inhaled, depending on which part of the body the test is intended to examine.

PET scans are most commonly used to detect cancer, heart problems and brain diseases. What makes the PET scan unique is that it can detect activity and changes at the cellular level. Other CT scans, on the other hand, can only detect diseases once they have caused a noticeable change in the structure of the organs or tissue.

Because PET scans can detect early cellular changes in the body, they’re helpful in diagnosing complex systemic diseases such as coronary artery disease and seizure disorders. The level of detail they show makes PET-CT scans extremely valuable to medical professionals.

PET scans are safe for most people and the results far outweigh the risks of the radiation involved in the test. However, you should alert your doctor if you’re allergic to iodine, aspartame or saccharine or if you have kidney disease, as the tracers used for the scan could create a negative reaction. You also shouldn’t have a PET scan if you’re pregnant.

Make an Appointment

Envision Radiology is pleased to offer CT scans at many of our imaging centers found in Texas, Colorado, Louisiana and Oklahoma. To find out if this service is offered at your nearest location, click on the link below and contact one of our imaging centers.