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CT Imaging


CT, sometimes called a CAT scan, uses special image data acquired from different angles and advanced computer processing of the information to show a cross sectional image of the body.

CT imaging is particularly useful as it can show several types of tissue such as air, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels with great clarity. Radiologists can thus readily diagnose problems such as cancers, infectious disease, trauma, musculo-skeletal disorders and cardio-vascular disease.

 

 

 
CT technology has advanced tremendously over the past few years and we now have Multi-Detector CT (MDCT) available at three of our branches. MDCT improves the quality of CT images profoundly, mainly for the following reasons:

  • Scan times are reduced dramatically, which almost eliminates motion artifact (which occurs when the patient is unable to keep still during the scan). 
  • With the use of 64 detectors much more information is gathered in much better detail. Slices are as thin as 0.3mm, which aids in producing images of very high resolution.
  • Every volume of information can be manipulated with very high precision to create 3D and multi-planar images.
  • It allows us to do more specialized investigations with better accuracy, such as CT-Angiography of the cardiac vessels and other vascular studies. These studies have improved so much with MDCT that they are now often used instead of conventional catheter angiography in theatre.

 

 CT is one of the best tools for studying the head, neck, chest and abdomen. It is often the best method for diagnosing many different cancers including lung, liver and pancreatic cancer.  CT examinations are often used to plan and properly administer radiation therapy for tumours and to guide biopsies and other minimally invasive procedures.  In trauma it useful to demonstrate the full extent of any injury.


Frequently asked questions
Q: What can I expect when I go for a CT scan?
A: CT scanning causes no pain and with MDCT the need to lie still for any length of time is reduced. For different parts of the body the patient's preparation will be different. You may be asked to swallow a liquid contrast material that allows the radiologist to better see the stomach, small bowel and colon. Some patient's find the taste mildly unpleasant but most can easily tolerate it. 

Commonly, a contrast material may be injected into a vein to define the blood vessels and kidneys and to accentuate the difference between normal and abnormal tissue in organs like the liver and spleen. A sensation of a flush of heat and sometimes a metallic taste in the back of the mouth are experienced. These usually disappear within a minute or two.

Some people feel a mild itching sensation and if this is accompanied by hives (small bumps on the skin) it can be treated easily with medication. In very rare cases shortness of breath or swelling of the throat or other parts of the body indicate a more serious reaction to the contrast material and will be treated promptly. The radiographer should be told immediately if you experience these symptoms. Fortunately with the new contrast materials that we use in our practice these adverse effects are very rare.

Before administering the contrast media the radiologist or radiographer will ask whether the patient has any allergies. Patients with asthma, heart conditions, renal disease or diabetes mellitus should bring these to the attention of the radiologist as such conditions may need special precautions to be implemented. It is also important to mention these conditions to our reception staff at the time of making the booking to allow them to make special arrangements should these be required.

The patient is alone in the examination room during the scan, but the radiographer can see, hear and speak to the patient at all times. In the case of children, a parent may be allowed in the room to alleviate fear, but will be required to wear a lead apron to prevent radiation exposure.

Q: How is the procedure performed?
A: The radiographer begins by positioning the patient on the CT table. The body may be supported by pillows to help the patient hold still in the correct position during the scan. As the study proceeds the table will move through the CT scanner while the images are taken. Depending on the area of body being examined, the movement may be so little that it is almost undetectable. If a larger area is scanned the patient will definitely feel the table moving. Sometimes the patient will be asked to hold his/her breath during the scan. All special instructions will be clearly explained by the radiographer.

Q: When will I get the result?
A: Your radiologist will analyse the images and report on them. New technology allows the distribution of diagnostic reports and referral images over the internet at some facilities.

You will usually receive a printed report and images (on film or CD or both) on the same day as the examination, however, some complex cases may need more processing (creation of 3D and multi-planar images) and would then be available for collection the next day, or could be delivered to your referring doctor.

Q: Do I need to make an appointment?
A: Except in emergencies, booking an appointment is essential. Some CT examinations require a preparation procedure to be followed. Clear instructions will be given at the time of booking the appointment.

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