Phoenix VA Health Care System
Radiology - CT Department
Computerized Tomography (CT)
| NOTE ABOUT SERVICE ANIMALS: Any person bringing any guide/service or program therapy animal into the facility must follow these guidelines:
- A CT scanner rotates to take X-ray images from different angles all around your body. A computer puts these images together to form detailed, two-dimensional pictures.
- CT provides clearer, more detailed pictures than traditional X-rays.
- Exams typically take 15 minutes in total; the actual scanning takes just minutes.
- Many exams involve contrast—a drink or injection that makes the images more informative.
- The technologist performing your exam will be nearby and able to talk to you throughout the scan.
- CT exams require that you lie still in a confined space. But because the scanning time is so short, most people tolerate the experience well.
- Every exam is interpreted by a radiologist with specialty expertise in the specific area of the body under study. A specialist is capable of seeing and understanding subtle things due to advanced training and singular focus.
- We use the latest technology, and the capabilities of our state-of-the-art scanners play a key role in tailoring each exam to your specific needs and reducing radiation exposure.
- A CT scan is a noninvasive medical test that uses special X-ray equipment to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views of the area being studied. CT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity than conventional X-ray exams.
- CT scanning is commonly used to diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.
Procedures/services we officer include:
|CT Cardiac||- Scan of the arteries of the heart
- Prep: Four (4) hours of fasting and no caffiene 24 hours prior to exam
|CT Cartoid||- Scan of the arteries of neck and head
- Prep: Four (4) hours of fasting prior
|CT Chest||- Full scan of lungs and blood vessels
- Prep: Four (4) hours of fasting prior
|CT of Extremities||- Scan of any part of arms or legs
- Prep: None
|CT Guided Biopsy|
|CT Head||- Scan of the brain
- Prep: None
|CT Abdominal||- Scan of full organs and blood vessels of abdomen and pelvis
- Prep:Four (4) hours of fasting prior
|CT Sinus||- Full scan of sinuses
- Prep: None
|CT Spine||- Scan of neck and/or back
- Prep: None
Patient Preparation:Depending on which part of your body is being scanned, you may be asked to:
- Take off some or all your clothing and wear a hospital gown
- Remove metal objects, such as a belt, jewelry, dentures and eyeglasses, which might interfere with image results
- Refrain from eating or drinking for four (4) hours before your scan
Contrast material:A special dye called a contrast material is needed for some CT scans, to help highlight the areas of your body being examined. The contrast material blocks X-rays and appears white on images, which can help emphasize blood vessels, intestines or other structures. Contrast material might be given to you:
- By mouth - If your esophagus or stomach is being scanned, you may need to swallow a liquid that contains contrast material. This drink has a fruit punch flavor
- By injection - Contrast agents can be injected through a vein in your arm to help your gallbladder, urinary tract, liver or blood vessels stand out on the images. You may experience a feeling of warmth during the injection or a metallic taste in your mouth.
Additional Information:If you are given IV contrast through a vein, we ask that you hydrate after your CT exam. It is best to drink up to 32 oz. of water throughout the day.
- Dr. Jim Matz, Radiologist
- Christine, chief technologist
- Jeremy, CT supervisor
- Leaha, lead technologist
Frequently Asked Questions:Q. Can I take my medicine before a CT scan?
A. Yes, please take medicines before the CT scan, except for diabetic medicines(Metformin). Consult your physician before the test for instructions.
Q. How long will it take to do a CT scan?
A. Expect the exam to last no longer than an hour, depending on the preparation needed and whether it includes the use of a contrast medium. The scan itself may take less than a minute on the newest machines. Most scans take just a few minutes to complete.
Q. Will the radiation that I receive from the CT scan hurt me?
A. CT scans are like those of conventional X-rays. During the CT scan, you’re briefly exposed to radiation. But doctors and other scientists believe that CT scans provide enough valuable information to outweigh the associated risks.
Q. What will I experience during and after the procedure?
A. During the CT scan, you lie on a narrow table that slides through the opening of the gantry. You may lie on your back, side or stomach, depending on the area to be scanned. The table can be raised or lowered. Straps and pillows may help you stay in position. During a CT scan of the head, the table may be fitted with a special cradle that holds your head still. CT scans are painless. If your exam involves use of an intravenous contrast medium, you may feel a brief sensation of heat or experience a metallic taste in your mouth. After the exam, you can return to your normal routine. If you were given a contrast medium, your doctor, a nurse or the CT technologist performing the scan may give you special instructions. You may be asked to wait for a short time in the radiology department to ensure that you feel well after the exam. After the scan, you’ll likely be told to drink 32 oz. of fluids to help your kidneys remove the medium from your body.
Q. Will I have to take a CT contrast or dye, and can I be allergic to it?
A. It depends on which part of your body is being scanned. Although rare, the contrast medium Involved in a CT scan poses a slight risk of allergic reaction. Most reactions are mild and result in hives or itchiness. In rare instances, an allergic reaction can be serious and potentially life-threatening — including swelling in your throat or other areas of your body. If you experience hives, itchiness or swelling in your throat during or after your CT exam, immediately tell your technologist or doctor. If you’ve had a reaction to a contrast medium in the past, and you need a diagnostic test that may require a contrast medium again, talk to your doctor. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have kidney problems, since contrast material that’s injected into a vein is removed from your body by your kidneys.
Q. Will I need someone to drive for me after the CT scan?
A. No, the CT scan is a safe test that will not affect your ability to drive.
Q. How and when will I get my results?
A. CT images are stored as electronic data files and usually reviewed on a computer. A radiologist interprets these images and sends a report to your doctor. Once the radiologist reads your images, your ordering physician will receive your results typically within 24 to 48 hours. Your physician will go over the findings with you.
Q. Can I move while I am in the CT scanner?
A. You should not move when you are on the CT table and the images are being acquired. It is important that you not move the body part being imaged, for example your head, until the entire CT exam is complete. CT exams of the chest and abdomen require the patient to hold their breath for a short period of time, for example, 10 to 25 seconds. This eliminates blurring in the image caused by breathing or other patient motion.
Q. Can I bring a friend or a relative into the CT scan room with me?
A. No, CT uses x-ray and only the person being imaged should be in the CT scanner room during the examination.
Q. Can I have an CT imaging exam if I am pregnant?
A. Pregnant woman should not have a CT exam or any x-ray examination, especially if the woman is in her first trimester (first of three-3 month periods of pregnancy). Depending on the condition, there may be other exams available, such as ultrasound, to help diagnose a medical condition. Pregnant women should always inform their imaging technologist or radiologist that they are pregnant, or may be pregnant.