A CT scan is also known as a computerized tomography scan, and is usually employed when the area requiring examination requires a more detailed image than would be given during an MRI scan. A CT scan is also far quicker if time is pressing to see the location or extent of an injury before any possible surgery. As a CT scan is effectively an x-ray, it is a more effective diagnostic tool for bone injuries or regularities, although an MRI scan usually gives a clearer picture for soft tissue and organ damage.
Additionally, as there is a dose equivalent to three to five years of background radiation involved, it is not usually used for patients that are not presenting symptoms; as with all x-rays, there is a small increase in cancer risk, generally outweighed by the speed of diagnosis for potentially life-threatening conditions.
“As a CT scan is effectively an x-ray,
it is a more effective diagnostic tool
for bone injuries or regularities,
although an MRI scan usually gives
a clearer picture for soft tissue
and organ damage.”
Unlike a conventional x-ray, however, your appointment letter will detail a few things you should be aware of prior to your scan. For example, you may be asked not to eat beforehand, usually for a period of around four hours. This is so that the quality of the images isn’t affected by a full stomach. You may also be given a contrast dye, either in the form of a drink or as an enema; patients who have kidney problems, are medicated for diabetes, or who present allergies should inform the hospital in advance of their scan, as special arrangements may need to be made. It’s best to wear loose and comfortable clothing, and to avoid items with zips and metal fastenings. Jewelry will also have to be removed, so you may wish to leave this at home.
Although the scanner consists of a ring that that rotates around sections of your body as you pass through it on a flat bed, you may still feel nervous or otherwise anxious about the procedure. It’s perfectly okay to ask for a sedative if you think this will apply to you. The radiographer will be in another room, but you will still be able to communicate with them. The whole procedure is unlikely to take more than twenty minutes, and unless you’ve had a contrast dye – you will be asked to stay in the hospital for an hour or so to make sure you aren’t going to have a reaction to it – you can go about your life as normal immediately afterwards.
“A private CT scan is usually cheaper than
an MRI, so this can also be a good option
if you need a detailed and up to date picture
of existing health concerns, or if you require
extra reassurance that a particular course
of treatment is working for you.”
As a CT is usually recommended for specific symptoms, you may wish to have a private CT scan to speed up the diagnostic process for your own peace of mind, especially if your GP suspects you may have a condition where early treatment will give a better outcome. A private CT scan is usually cheaper than an MRI, so this can also be a good option if you need a detailed and up to date picture of existing health concerns, or if you require extra reassurance that a particular course of treatment is working for you.
Have you ever had a CT Scan?
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