Computerized Tomography Scan (CAT/CT)

Also known as: CT Scan, CAT Scan

At Providence, our CT scans are designed to image the body with a high level of clarity and precision. It allows our doctors to provide more accurate diagnoses, better treatments and more positive outcomes for all our patients.

A computerized tomography scan, or CT scan for short, is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce clear, high-resolution images – often called slices – of the body, including bones, organs, even blood vessels.

CT scans were designed to allow doctors to image the body from different directions and are more detailed than conventional X-rays. Because a CT scanner is circular and rotates around the body, the machine is able to deliver X-rays from different angles along a rotating gantry. Those images, or “slices,” can be seen in 2-D or stacked together to create 3-D cross-sections on a computer.

CT scans allow your doctor to pinpoint afflictions almost anywhere on the body for surgeries, treatments or emergencies. The scans help examine blood clots, fractures and broken bones, tumors, internal injuries to the head, chest, abdomen and pelvis or internal bleeding, and can screen for signs of heart and vascular disease and muscle disorders.

Depending on the part of your body your scan will focus on, you will receive a dosage of a contrast dye either through a drink, an injection, or an IV. The dye allows your organs and bones to appear clearly within the images. 

During the scan, you lie on a moving bed that enters through the CT scanning machine. The scanning machine looks like a small tunnel that wraps itself around your entire body. The tunnel delivers and picks up low-dosage radiation to image the different organs and bones in your body.

The CT scanning machine then sends the digital X-ray information received to a computer controlled by a radiologist and located in a separate room. The computer processes the information to produce the slices and cross-sections for analysis.

Your radiologist monitors you and the CT scanner throughout the entire process. Should you feel uncomfortable or need assistance, a microphone allows you to speak to them at all times. 

The entire procedure takes roughly 30 minutes with the scan itself taking no longer than 10.

We use low-dosage technology to minimize ionizing radiation exposure while still maintaining a good image quality for an accurate diagnosis. Other than the slight radiation exposure, CT scans have not been shown to cause long-term harm to your health.

During the procedure, some side effects are possible and usually limited to reactions to the contrast dye. These include itchiness and soreness, as well as a warm, metallic taste in the mouth and the false sensation of urination.