Computed Tomography (CT)

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Fusing the science of technology with the art of patient care.

Computer Tomography (CT) machine

A computerized tomography (CT) scan combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images (pictures), or slices, of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues inside your body. CT scan images provide more detailed information than plain X-rays do.

A CT scan has many uses, but is particularly well-suited to quickly examine people who may have internal injuries from car accidents or other types of trauma. A CT scan can be used to visualize nearly all parts ofthe body and is used to diagnose disease or injury as well as to plan medical, surgical or radiation treatment.

Your doctor may recommend a CT scan to help:

  • Diagnose muscle and bone disorders, such as bone tumors and fractures
  • Pinpoint the location of a tumor, infection or blood clot
  • Guide procedures such as surgery, biopsy and radiation therapy
  • Detect and monitor diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung nodules and liver masses
  • Monitor the effectiveness of certain treatments, such as cancer treatment
  • Detect internal injuries and internal bleeding

Patient Preparation

Before your examination, a CT technologist will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have. The technologist will ask you several questions about your medical history. It is helpful to have a list of current medications and dosages you are taking. A CT technologist, also known as a radiologic technologist, is a skilled medical professional who has received specialized education in the areas of anatomy, patient positioning, patient care, radiation safety, imaging techniques and CT procedures.

During the Examination

Examination time can range from 10 minutes to more than an hour, depending upon the part of the body being examined and whether or not a contrast agent is used. For a head scan, you will be asked to remove eyeglasses, dentures and barrettes or hairpins. For a body scan, you may be asked to put on a hospital gown and to remove all jewelry, because metal can interfere with the imaging. You will be provided a secure place to store these items during your examination.

The CT technologist will position you on the scanning table. tf you are undergoing a head scan, the technologist will place your head in a cradle to help prevent movement. For head scans and sea ns of other parts of the body, you will be secured onto the table with a safety strap. Even the slightest movement can blur the image, so it's important to hold still during the scan.

You may be given a contrast agent to drink before the examination begins, and/or it may be administered through an injection into a vein. The contrast agent helps visualize tissues in the area being studied. You may feel nauseous, flushed or headachy after the contrast is administered; these are normal reactions. However, if you feel itchy or short of breath, you may be having an allergic reaction to the contrast agent and you should tell the technologist immediately.

The technologist will guide the scanning table into the CT unit, which is a rectangular machine with a large circular hole in the center. The CT technologist will not be in the room during the scan, but will be able to observe you through a window from an adjacent room and will be able to hear you and talk to you through a two-way microphone system.

During the scan, the x-ray tube within the CT unit will rotate around you, taking x-ray pictures of one very thin slice of tissue after another. As the x-ray tube rotates, you will hear a whirring sound. The table that you are on will move slightly to reposition you for each scan, but it moves so slowly th at you might not even notice it.

The technologist will tell you when each scan sequence is beginning and how long it will last. You should remain as still as possible throughout the sequence, and for certain scans you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds. The x-ray unit that rotates around your body is linked to a computer that processes each scan in a matter of seconds. The final scans, called "CT images," are sent to a monitor that the CT technologist observes throughout the procedure. The scans then can be output on film or recorded on CD to be taken to your physician.

When the exam is complete, your CT scans will be given to a radiologist - a physician who specializes in the diagnostic interpretation of medical images.

GE Lightspeed 16CT Scanner

The Lightspeed product expands multi-slice CT scanning technology from 8 to 16 slices per rotation. Lightspeed16 incorporates breakthrough innovations that deliver speed with sub­millimeter resolution and effective dose optimization to push clinical applications to new levels.

Engineered specifically for the demanding requirements of sub-second CT scanning, the GE Lightspeed16 provides faster and thinner slices of images and improves 3D and reformatted 2D resolution. This allows for superb sub-millimeter isotropic resolution that facilitates imaging of small tortuous vessels, fine bony structures and coronary arteries.

Responsible dose management has always been a priority with CUC and GE. In CT scanning, image quality is often improved at the expense of higher radiation dose to the patient. However, the Lightspeed16TM is designed to offer stellar images at a minimum patient dose.

Vitrea 3-D Imaging Workstation

Vitrea software is an advanced visualization solution that creates 2D, 3D, and 4D images of human anatomy from CT (computed tomography) and MR (magnetic resonance) image data. With this tool, physicians can easily navigate within these images to better understand disease conditions.