CT of the Head, Neck, Spine & Extremities

What is a CT of the Body?

A CT scan of any part of the body is a noninvasive medical exam that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. CT scans are able to reveal greater details and more clarity than a regular x-ray exam. The ability to visualize the organs, bones, and blood vessels in multiple planes is a valuable tool for an accurate diagnosis.

CT of the Head

CT of the Head is fast and readily available, which makes it a great choice for trauma evaluation, sudden onset of headaches, and sinus disease. CT is also alternative to MRI when patients cannot have an MRI due to pacemakers, aneurysm clips, pain stimulators and metal implants. IV iodinated contrast media is often indicated for an accurate evaluation of the vasculature and/or disease. The need for IV contrast is determined by the reason for the scan.

The following is a list of the many reasons that CT of the Head are done:
  • Headaches
  • Cancer
  • Hydrocephalus, NPH
  • Bleed
  • Trauma
  • Stroke
  • Visual Changes
  • Shunt
  • Sinus Disease
  • Metastasis
  • Subdural Hematoma
  • Aneurysm
  • Skull Fracture
  • Dizziness
  • Syncope
  • Memory Loss

CT of the Neck

CT of the neck is the preferred exam when evaluating the soft tissue structures of the neck. The scan includes the orbits through the top of the lungs and is used extensively evaluate the glands and lymph nodes of the neck. IV iodinated contrast media is often indicated for an accurate evaluation of the vasculature and/or disease. The need for IV contrast is determined by the reason for the scan.

The following is a list of the many reasons that CT of the Neck are done:
  • Lumps
  • Swelling
  • Submandibular Gland
  • Goiter
  • Trauma
  • Larynx
  • Tongue
  • Sore Throat
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis
  • Parotid Gland
  • Salivary Gland
  • Thyroid Gland
  • Oral Pharynx
  • Nasal Pharynx
  • Trachea
  • Cancer
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Hoarseness

CT of the Spine

CT of the spine including the cervical, thoracic and lumbar is most often done to evaluate injury to the vertebral column and/or post surgery. The bone structure and inter-vertebral disc spaces are well visualized with CT.

CT is also alternative to MRI when patients cannot have an MRI due to pacemakers aneurysm clips, pain stimulators and metal implants. IV iodinated contrast media is not usually indicated, but may be necessary to evaluate post surgical changes and/or infection. The need for IV contrast is determined by the reason for the scan.

The following is a list of the many reasons that CT of the Spine are done:
  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Scoliosis
  • Fractures
  • Trauma
  • Osteoporosis
  • Numbness
  • Vertebral Plasty
  • Herniated Disc
  • Fixation Devices
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Cancer

CT of the Extremities

CT of the extremities is done most often for fracture evaluation or trauma. CT is also used in conjunction with arthrograms to evaluate joint injuries. The ability of CT to view anatomy in multiple planes with excellent detail makes CT a popular choice for bone imaging. IV iodinated contrast media is not usually indicated, but may be necessary to evaluate tumor or infection. The need for IV contrast is determined by the reason for the scan.

The following is a list of the many reasons that CT of the Extremities are done:
  • Fracture
  • Trauma
  • Rotator Cuff Tear
  • Fractures
  • Fixation Device
  • Meniscus Tear
  • Tumor
  • Loose Bodies or Bone Fragments

Exam Preparation

  • No solid food 4 hours prior to the exam if oral and/or IV contrast is used.
  • If IV iodinated contrast is needed and you have an allergy to the iodinated contrast media, you will need to pre-medicated.
  • Patients may be asked to dress into an exam gown.
  • Drink water, there is no restriction on your water intake.
  • CT of the Abdomen and Pelvis often requires an oral contrast 2 to 3 hours prior to the scan. Exception would be a CT Stone Protocol.

During the Exam

  • Any metal that is within the area to be scanned will need to be removed.
  • Removable dental work may need to be removed.
  • If contrast is needed, the technologist will insert an IV for the injection of the iodinated contrast media.
  • During the scan your arms may be brought above your head depending on the type of the exam.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath for 10-20 seconds while the images are being taken.
  • Exam should be completed within 15 minutes.

After the Exam

  • Following your exam you may be asked to remain in the department until your IV has been removed.
  • If you drank oral contrast it is not unusual to experience a loose stool or diarrhea. The oral contrast is liquid and is designed to travel through the bowel in 2 to 3 hours.
  • Report will be forwarded to your doctor.