Computed Axial Tomography

A computerized tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays and a sophisticated computer to view specific details of the body’s anatomy. However, unlike traditional X-ray where the radiation beam comes from a stationary source, a CT scan is created by rotation of the X-ray beam in a circle around the patient to obtain a cross-sectional image.

Additionally, multidector spiral CT scans allow high-definition, 3-D imaging to permit greater visualization of blood vessels and internal tissues, such as those inside the chest cavity.

The major benefit of CT is its ability to show internal anatomy in cross-sections commonly referred to as slices. The most common analogy used to describe the cross-sectional view is that of a slice out of a loaf of bread. In CT scanning the slices are very, very thin millimeter sections capable of revealing tiny abnormalities.

Computed Tomography (CT)

CAT scans help physicians identify medical conditions, diseases or trauma. They are commonly done to detect fractures and internal damage in patients who have suffered injuries or to help diagnose patients with specific symptoms (e.g. abdominal pain).

CAT scans can also rule out certain diseases, by showing the specific condition (e.g. a tumor) is not present in the patient. Conversely, these images may also be helpful in determining the next treatment step if a medical condition is known.

Hence, CAT scan images frequently assist in the determination of the extent of a problem, surgical planning, guiding a needle to obtain a biopsy and assessing the effect of treatment.

For CT, if the exam is ordered without contrast, there is no prep. If the exam is ordered with contrast, there will be a 2-hour fast, except for abdominal and pelvic exams which have a 4-hour fast prior. Small amount of water is OK. For abdominal and pelvic exams, most patients will require an oral contrast prior to the exam. Please check with scheduling to see if it will be necessary.

There are two options for the oral contrast. First option is to pick up the contrast from our office and drink half the night before, and the other half one hour prior to the exam; if you choose this option the patient cannot eat or drink anything after beginning the contrast. The second option is to show up an hour before the exam to drink the contrast in the office.

Patients do not experience any pain while undergoing a CAT scan. During the exam, patients lie on a table attached to the CAT scanner, which is a large doughnut-shaped machine. The table moves slowly, while images are taken of a specific part of the body.

It is vital that patients lie still during the exam, so the images are as clear as possible. Once a patient enters the CAT scan room, the time that it takes to image the entire body is usually less than a minute. Depending on what body part requires imaging and the reason for the study, patients may be required to take an iodine dye (contrast medium) orally and/or by injection into a vein.

Fasting may also be necessary. If oral or venous contrast is required, the preparation time before scanning can be half an hour or more. At OPI, patients receive the most accurate diagnoses possible through the expertise of our board certified radiologists and state-of-the-art technology.

CAT-SCAN appointments may be scheduled at our:
Peachtree City office at (770) 305-4674
Newnan office at (770) 502-9883
Atlanta office at (404) 225-5674