What is CT/CTA Scan?
CT (computed tomography), sometimes called CAT scan, uses special x-ray equipment to obtain image data from different angles around the body and then uses computer processing of the information to show a cross-section of body tissues and organs.
CTA (computed tomography angiogram) is a type of medical test that combines a CT scan with a special dye injected called “contrast material” to produce pictures of blood vessels and tissues in a part of your body. The exam is primarily used to find blood clots and damaged blood vessels cause by injury and or underlying disease.
CT imaging is particularly useful because it can show several types of tissue—lung, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels—with great clarity. Using specialized equipment and expertise to create and interpret CT scans of the body, radiologists can more easily diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.
How does the procedure work?
In many ways CT scanning works very much like other x-ray examinations. Very small, controlled amounts of x-ray radiation are passed through the body and different tissues absorb radiation at different rates.
An x-ray beam is emitted in a fan shape as the rotating frame spins the x-ray tube and detector around the patient. Each time the x-ray tube and detector make a 360-degree rotation and the x-ray passes through the patient’s body, the image of a thin section is acquired.
How should I prepare for the scan?
To prepare for a CT scan, patients should avoid clothing with zippers and snaps, remove hairpins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids and any removable dental work, as metal objects often affect the images. You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for one or more hours before the exam. The examination often requires the use of different contrast materials to enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels. The contrast material may be swallowed, injected through an IV directly into the blood stream.
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
A radiologist, who is a physician experienced in CT and other radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report with the interpretation to the patient’s ordering physician. A disk with a copy of the images will also be provided to the patient at the time the exam has concluded.