CT of the Head
In This Page:
A CT scan, or CAT scan, is a common term for computerized tomography, a painless diagnostic imaging test that displays images of internal structures of the body on a computer screen. Cat scan uses a narrow beam of X-rays and high-powered computers to generate images of bones and soft-tissues in the body and head.
Need to Know
Nice to Know
Why is This Exam Done?
Your doctor has requested a computed tomography scan (CT) of your brain. CT scans use X-ray technology and advanced computer analysis to create detailed pictures of the body. This technology, called cross-sectional imaging, allows the imaging physician to take highly detailed images and to assess your brain for injury or abnormality, including bleeding, tumors, blood clots or signs of stroke.
What Will Happen During the Exam?
- The technologist will explain your procedure and answer any questions you may have. Then position you on the exam table.
- If contrast dye is being used, it will be injected through your IV placed in your arm.
- During the injection, you may experience a warm sensation all over your body and a metal taste in your mouth. This is normal.
- If you experience any itching, sneezing, nasal congestion, scratchy throat or swelling of your face, please notify the technologist immediately.
- You will be asked to lie flat on your back. Your arms will be positioned at your sides.
- Your head will be placed in a holder and you will be asked to hold very still. Only your head will be covered by the scanner. The scanner is open at the back and the front, allowing you to see out.
- People who fear small, close places (claustrophobic) usually do not have problems with this procedure.
- The technologist will always be able to see and hear you during your exam.
- This procedure usually takes approximately 15 minutes.
How Should I Prepare?
Women should always inform their physician and the CT technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
Please inform your doctor and our technologist if you have any known allergies to contrast (dye).
What to Wear
Please dress in comfortable clothing. Leave all jewelry and valuables at home
Please take all the medications that have been prescribed to you by your doctor. Let our staff know what medications you have taken prior to your exam.
Food and Drink
You should not eat solid foods for two hours prior to your test, if your exam is being done with contrast. You may, however, drink plenty of clear fluids, such as water and broth, if exam is with contrast.
What Should I Bring?
If your doctor gave you an order, please bring it with you.
What Are the Benefits and Risks?
The benefits of CT of the Head:
- Can provide more detailed, accurate results than traditional x-ray
- Can detect problems/disease earlier
- Involves minimal risks
- Painless, noninvasive and accurate
- Fast and simple
- Can be performed if you have an implanted medical device, unlike MRI
- May eliminate the need for exploratory surgery or biopsy
Where Can I Get This Exam?
CT of the head and neck is performed at the locations: