What is a total body CT scan?
A CT scan, also called computerized tomography, is a diagnostic test that uses advanced X-ray imaging. The modern equipment allows reconstruction of images not only in the axial plane, but also on each plane. Moreover, the X-rays provide cross-sectional images of the body, which caused the CT scan to become recognized as a valuable medical instrument for the diagnosis of diseases, abnormalities or trauma and for planning, guiding and monitoring therapy.
The duration of the examination takes on an average up to 10 minutes, with slight variations depending on the parts of the body being examined, the condition being studied and the need for a contrast dye injection.
What is the purpose of a CT scan?
A CT scan carries out the performance of diagnostic tests in relation to chronic inflammatory and cancerous diseases of any part of the body. However, normal CT scans carry the possibility of false reassurance or inaccuracy. Moreover, any inconclusive or suspicious findings may require further non-invasive diagnostic tests. In some cases, the follow up testing may include invasive procedures that are associated with surgical risks such as bleeding, infection or scarring, or it may be necessary to perform additional radiological tests that involve further radiation exposure and the potential risk of allergic reactions to the contrast material that is injected. Generally, in any case, it is unlikely that a CT scan can benefit patients that lack symptoms of a disease by detecting the illness early enough to treat it.
Standard of preparation
If the patient is told that they can get a CT scan with no need for a contrast medium injection, no preparation is necessary. If, however, the patient is in need of a contract medium injection, they should fast for at least six hours prior to the examination and complete blood tests in order to provide useful information in relation to liver and kidney function.
Which patients can undergo the exam?
A CT scan involves high radiation exposure and therefore should be limited in doses in children and is not recommended for women who are pregnant.
Is a CT scan painful or dangerous?
The exam is completely painless. In cases where it is necessary for the CT scan to be carried out with a contrast medium injection intravenously, the patient may experience a slight feeling of warmth.
How is a CT scan performed?
The machinery used for a CT scan has the shape of a large washing machine, with a mobile gantry in the centre. During a CT scan, the patient is asked to lie on a mobile bed with their head resting on the head rest while their head or cervical spine is being examined. Depending on the area being examined, the arms may be collected over the head. In order to obtain quality images, it is necessary that the patient remain motionless during the entire examination. Once inside the gantry, the x-ray tube revolves around the patient continually, while they are emitted with beams of x-rays. The bed moves in a horizontal manner so as to allow images of various sections of the body to be acquired.