Computed Tomography

What Is Computed Tomography (CT)?

Computed Tomography (CT) (also known as a “CAT” scan) is a radiological imaging technique used to visualize anatomy inside the body. The exam uses x-rays to make detailed cross-sectional images of the body with as much as 100 times more clarity than a conventional x-ray.

That information is then transmitted to a computer where the images are processed and organized into remarkably detailed pictures of the body. The information gathered during a CT scan is processed by a computer and interpreted by a radiologist to diagnose, or rule out disease. CT imaging can be performed with or without a contrast material depending on the type of information the physician is trying to obtain. The studies using contrast material require special patient preparation.

Open Advanced MRI NW offers two of the most advanced 64-row CT scanners available today. This advanced generation of equipment provides exceptional diagnostic accuracy and, because of its ultra-fast speed, is ideal for patients who may have difficulty remaining still. You can trust our scanner is finely tuned to administer the least amount of radiation necessary to obtain your medical images.

At Open Advanced MRI Northwest, common CT imaging studies include:

  • Spine
  • Abdomen and Pelvis
  • Chest
  • Brain
  • Head (sinuses, facial bones/temporal bones)
  • Soft Tissue Neck
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Vascular
  • Cardiac

Patient Preparation

Prior to the start of your CT exam, the technologist will explain the procedure to you and address any concerns you may have.

Preparing for a CT scan depends on what part of the body is being imaged. You may be asked to remove any metal objects that may interfere with the scan (such as dentures, hairpins or jewelry) and wear comfortable metal-free clothing. Some CT exams require the injection of a contrast agent in order to view specific types of anatomy.

In general, patients receiving contrast will require more patient preparation than those patients receiving no contrast. The contrast material is either consumed orally, injected directly into the patient’s blood stream, or both, depending on the procedure. For example, most scans of the abdomen and pelvis require patients to drink a contrast material that allows their stomach and intestines to show up, as well as an injection of contrast dye through an IV.

When an IV is required the contrast dye will be safely injected into a vein in the arm, wrist, or hand area. When patients are given dye, some experience a strange smell and/or taste. Often times, this contrast makes patients feel warm in their neck, abdomen, and extremities and gives them the sensation they need to urinate. These sensations can last approximately two minutes and are nothing to worry about. Allergic reactions to the contrast dye are very uncommon but can occur.

History of Previous Exams

Have you had any prior studies of the area we are going to be imaging? It’s important to give this information to us prior to your exam. Be sure to include the facility name and approximate dates/years of exams. This helps us to locate the correct studies and have them available for our radiologists so they can compare and note any changes that have occurred. If you have a copy of your images, please bring them with you to your appointment.

Your CT Exam

On the day of your exam wear comfortable, metal-free clothing and remember to remove all metal objects such as jewelry, hairpins or dentures.

At the time of your appointment, a technologist will take you to a changing room. You’ll be told about the exam, discuss your medical history and have a chance to ask questions. It’s important you inform the technologist of any medications you’re taking, as well as any allergies you have. In addition, inform the technologist of any history of heart disease, asthma, kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid problems or pregnancy.

Once all your questions have been answered you’ll be taken to the CT room and positioned on a padded table. The table will slide into the CT scanner, which looks similar to a large ring. The table will move while the scanner takes pictures, which are reviewed by our radiologists on a computer workstation. Although the exam is painless, some patients find it uncomfortable to remain still.

Generally, CT scans average less than 15 minutes in the exam room. Patients should plan on spending at least one hour at our facility. This will allow sufficient time for registration, exam and image processing.

Your CT Exam Results

For most scans, it takes 24 to 48 hours for your physician to receive the radiologist’s report. Usually, your physician will discuss the results of the study with you and make plans for treating any symptoms you may be experiencing.

Patient Education

What Is CT?

CT combines x-ray energy with computer technology to provide a safe and painless look inside your body. CT (or “CAT” scan) technology takes detailed images of the body in a series of cross sections – like a loaf of thinly sliced bread.

How Is CT Different From MRI?

There are many differences between MRI and CT. Two of the major differences are scan time and acquisition. CT is much faster than MRI, however, CT uses x-ray to acquire images while MRI utilizes a magnetic field.

When Is A CT Used?

Our CT scanner produces images at very high speed. CT best images soft tissue areas such as the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. It’s also useful for imaging boney structures to look for small fractures that might have been unseen by conventional x-ray.

Schedule An Appointment

Appointment Desk: (503) 246-6666

Our Locations

Portland - Open Advanced MRI NW

9370 SW Greenburg Road
Portland, OR 97223
Phone: (503) 246-6666
Fax: (503) 246-9465
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Vancouver - Open Advanced MRI NW
221 NE 104th Ave
Vancouver, WA 98664
Phone: (360) 253-2525
Fax: (360) 253-3611
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