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Everything You Need to Know About CT Scans

July 25, 2023


Medical imaging is a branch of medicine that uses technology to recreate images of different parts of the body. Computed Tomography, more commonly known as CT scan, is one of the various types of diagnostic imaging techniques.

CT scans and other types of imaging are used to diagnose, monitor, and treat medical problems. They even have proven to be life-saving to some patients and increased the survival rate for certain conditions.

Now that you have had a glance at the importance and value of medical imaging and Computer Tomography, read on to learn more about CT scans and discover the benefits of this long-lasting imaging technology.

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What Are CT Scans?

CT scans use X-rays technology to create a 3D-cross-section of the inside of the body. For more than half a century, CT scans have been used to visualize bones, muscles, organs, and blood vessels.

Similar to an X-ray, CT scans use ionizing radiation but produce a more detailed image of the inside of the body as they combine X-ray technology with computer technology. This type of imaging has proven effective to detect injuries from trauma, tumors and cancers, bone fractures, cardiovascular diseases, and infections.

How Do CT Scans Work?

While getting a CT scan, you will be asked to lie on a table that slides into a donut-shaped scanner. While the scanner rotates around you, a beam of X-rays passes through your skin, bone, and soft tissue. The rotation allows specialists to capture in greater detail different angles of the same organ or other soft tissue in your body.

All the information obtained through X-rays is sent to a computer that interprets all the data and displays it in 3D images.

In some cases, CT scans may be done with contrast, which means that the radiologist wants to have an intravenous iodine-based contrast substance to highlight the targeted organ or soft tissue. This helps the specialist to have improved imaging of the inside of the body.

How Do I Prepare for a CT Scan?

Before a CT scan, patients are required to follow specific instructions. Preparing for a CT scan is typically a straightforward process. Here are the basic steps before and during your CT scan appointment.


You might be asked not to eat for a certain length of time before the scan—particularly if it is a CT scan with contrast. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare to ensure the accuracy and quality of your scan.

Inform of Allergies

When scheduling your CT scan, it is important to inform your specialist if you have experienced any allergic reactions to contrast media in the past. If you have had a severe or anaphylactic reaction, intravenous contrast will not be administered.

For mild to moderate reactions, a plan including pre-medication before the CT examination will be discussed with you in detail during the scheduling process. Make sure to discuss any known reactions to contrast media with your physician.

Remove Metal Objects

You will probably be asked to change into a medical gown and remove any metal objects, such as jewelry, watches, eyeglasses, or any other artifact that can interfere with the imaging process.

You will also likely need to remove dentures or other oral appliances for the scan.

What Happens During a CT Scan?

During a CT scan, the patient will lie on a movable table that slides back and forth through a doughnut-shaped opening in the scanning machine. The table moves upwards and downwards depending on the needs of the imaging.

The scan itself is not painful, but you might feel a bit uncomfortable if you are in a tight space or need to stay still for a prolonged period.

What Are the Benefits of CT Scan?

CT scans are considered necessary in many cases because they offer images of a variety of internal organs and structures quickly and accurately. Here are some of the benefits of this type of radiology imaging for patients.

Early Diagnosis

CT scans are an important diagnostic tool because they facilitate early diagnosis, which is important for patient outcomes and the effectiveness of treatments available. CT scans detect a variety of conditions such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, and broken bones.

Physicians can also turn to CT scans for non-cancer problems, including infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases.

Safe and Reliable

CT imaging equipment manufacturers have made significant progress in reducing radiation dose and emissions, addressing the concerns people have had regarding radiation. By effectively controlling the level of radiation, medical imaging has become much safer and more reliable.

Continuous Monitoring

If you have a pre-existing condition that requires ongoing monitoring to understand its progression or remission, a CT scan is the ideal method for assessing it. As mentioned previously, it is a painless and non-invasive procedure, which makes it convenient for patients who need to continue with follow-up health checkups and treatments.

What Are the Risks of a CT Scan?

While CT scans are generally considered safe and widely used in medical practice, it is important to be aware of potential risks associated with this imaging procedure. Here are some canons regarding the risks of a CT scan.

Radiation Exposure

CT scans use X-rays beams, which expose the body to ionizing radiation. Although the radiation dose has significantly decreased over the years, it is still important to limit unnecessary exposure.


If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about the amount of radiation used during the CT scan and the type of CT scan that they will perform. Your specialist will assess if an alternative imaging procedure is needed.

Contrast Media Risks

In some cases, a CT scan may require the use of contrast media, a dye that helps enhance the visibility of certain structures or abnormalities. While allergic reactions to contrast media are relatively rare, they can occur.

It is important to inform your healthcare provider about any known allergies or previous adverse reactions to contrast media to minimize the risk.

Discomfort and Anxiety

If you experience claustrophobia or have a tendency to become anxious easily, it is important to inform your doctor in advance. Your doctor may prescribe a mild sedative so you can be more comfortable during the examination.

The decision to undergo a CT scan should be made in collaboration with your healthcare provider, taking into account your specific medical history, symptoms, and the potential benefits of the procedure.

If you are looking for reliable radiology technicians, then head over to our center in Odessa, Washington. At Odessa Memorial Health Care Center, we can do in-house X-ray exams and have the best radiology team to send detailed images to physicians. If your care requires another study to be done, our providers at OMHC will work with other facilities to meet your needs. Contact us today or call at (509) 982-2611 to book an appointment.