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What is a CT Scan? In a Computed Tomography(CT) scan, a series of X-ray images are taken from different angles around a person?s body and then computer processing is used to create cross-sectional images of soft tissues, bones and blood vessel. Detailing provided by a CT-Scan is way better than a plain X-Ray. CT-Scans are generally done to examine internal injuries that a person might have got from an accident. All parts of a person?s body can be visualized by CT-Scan.
How is CT-Scan done?
A narrow X-Ray beam is circled around one part of person?s body. As a result of this, a series of images from different angles is created. This information is processed by the computer to create a cross-sectional image. This 2D scan displays a ?slice? of inside of patient?s body. A number of slices are produced using this process. Computer piles all these scans to create detailed image of person?s organs, blood vessels and bones. CT-Scan can also be done with ?Contrast?. Contrast is a substance which is either injected into an intravenous line or is taken by mouth. This contrast causes the body part under scan to appear more clearly.
Why is CT-Scan done?
1. Detect internal injuries and internal bleeding.
2. Monitor the effectiveness of treatments like cancer treatment.
3. Diagnose bone tumors and fractures.
4. Finding the location of a tumor, infection or blood clot
5. Detect and monitor diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease etc.
Types of CT-Scan:
1. Non-Contrast Computerized Tomography(NCCT) : It is just a higher version of x-ray. As explained above, series of X-rays are taken of a person?s body part to produce a more detailed image than an X-Ray. Dense substances like bones are easy to see with the help of a Non-Contrast Computerized Tomography(NCCT).
2. Contrast Enhanced Computed Tomography(CECT) : When soft tissues are to be analyzed, Non-Contrast Computerized Tomography doesn?t work well as they look faint in the image. In order to make soft tissues appear clearly, a special dye is used which is termed as contrast material. This material makes organs and vessels appear in a highlighted way as it blocks the X-Rays and appear white on the screen. Contrast material is made up of Barium Sulfate or Iodine. CT-Scan done with this kind of contrast material is known as Contrast Enhanced Computed Tomography.
List of Main CT-Scans and their description:
1. Head CT-Scan : Special X-Ray equipment is used in a a computed tomography of the head to access injuries that may be there in the head, dizziness, headaches and other problems related to bleeding, stroke and brain tumors. Head CT-scan is also used to help a doctor evaluate sinuses, face and skull or to plan radiation therapy for brain cancer.
2. Chest CT-Scan : Ct-Scan of the chest is done to find out the causes of shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, unexplained cough using a special X-Ray equipment. This scan is very helpful in finding out the lung cancer in its earliest stage because of its ability to detect very small nodules in the lung.
3.Heart CT-Scan : Heart CT-Scan is used to view heart and blood vessels of a person. A dye is injected into the bloodstream of the person which is then viewed under a special camera. This scan is used to find out following:
a. Tumors in or on the heart
b. Congenital heart disease, or birth defects in the heart
c. Buildup of a hard substance known as lipid plaque that may be blocking your coronary arteries
d. Defects or injury to the heart?s four primary valves
e. Blood clots within the heart?s chambers
4. Neck CT-Scan : In a neck CT-Scan, a specialized X-ray machine is used to produce images of organs and soft tissues of the neck including tonsils, adenoids, airways, throat, muscles and other glands. With the help of neck CT-Scan, diseases in throat and surrounding areas can be diagnosed. Diseases like cysts, tumors or some birth defects can also be looked out for using this scan.
5. CT-Scan of Paranasal Sinus (PNS) : Paranasal sinus cavities are air filled hollow spaces within the bones of the face surrounding the nasal cavity. A special X-Ray equipment is used to evaluate these paranasal sinus cavities in the CT-Scan for PNS. CT-Scanning is noninvasive, painless and accurate.This is considered as the most reliable imaging technique for finding out if sinuses are obstructed and is also the best imaging modality for sinusitis.
6. CT PNS-Coronal scan : CT Scan for PNS-Coronal is done to find out the following:
a. To detect any infections or inflammation of the sinuses.
b. To detect the presence of any tumors (abnormal growth).
c. To detect and diagnose chronic sinusitis or presence of any fluid in the sinus cavities.
d. To plan and guide the treatment procedures if any conducted.
e. To diagnose suspected deviated nasal septum.
7. CT-Scan of the Spine : In order to find out detailed information about the vertebrae (bones of the spine) and other spinal structures and tissues, CT-Scan of spine is done by the doctor. This scan is used to figure out spinal column damage in injured patients, provide information regarding injuries or diseases of the spine.
8. CT-Scan of Abdomen: With the help of Abdominal CT-Scan, a doctor can see bones, blood vessels and organs in a person's abdominal cavity. This scan is done to find out the following:
a. inflammation of the intestines, such as Crohn's disease b. injuries following trauma
c. recent cancer diagnosis
d. abdominal pain
e. a mass in your abdomen that you can feel
f. kidney stones
g. unexplained weight loss
i. to check for intestinal obstruction
Person undergoing CT-Scan may need to drink a large glass of oral contrast depending on the reason of getting CT scan. This is a liquid that contains either barium or a substance. In addition to the liquid mentioned above, a person may also be asked to have intravenous (IV) contrast dye to highlight organs, blood vessels and other structures.
9. CT-Scan of Pelvis: In this imaging method, Cross sectional pictures of the area between the hip bones using X-rays are created. This area of the body is known as pelvic area. Bladder, male reproductive organs, female reproductive organs, lymph nodes and pelvic bones are the structures that are present inside and near the pelvis.
Precautions before undergoing CT Scan:
Following are the precautions that should be taken before going under CT scan:
1. Refrain from eating or drinking for a few hours before your scan
2. Take off some or all of your clothing and wear a hospital gown
3. Remove metal objects, such as a belt, jewelry, dentures and eyeglasses, which might interfere with image results
Risks associated with undergoing CT-Scan:
Following are the risks associated with undergoing CT-Scan :
1. Sometimes the contrast material used while scan can lead to a reaction in patients who are allergic to it. This reaction can lead to rashes or in very few cases to life-threatening conditions as well.
2. Contrast materials can also lead to kidney problems in rare cases.
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