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CT Scan

A CT scan, or Computed Tomography scan, is a medical imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of internal body structures. Unlike an MRI, a CT scan involves exposure to ionizing radiation.

CT scans are fast.  The length of time a CT scan takes can vary depending on the body part being imaged and the type of CT scan being performed. A basic CT scan of the head or chest may only take a few minutes, while a more complex scan of the abdomen or pelvis may take 30 minutes.

Most people do not experience pain during a CT scan. However, you may need to lie still for an extended period, which can be uncomfortable - especially if you suffer from back pain. Additionally, some people may experience mild discomfort or a warm sensation as the contrast dye is injected into their veins. If you are anxious about the procedure, your doctor may be able to provide medication or other strategies to help you feel more relaxed.

A CT scan can be used to diagnose a wide range of medical conditions, including:

  • Traumatic injuries, such as bone fractures or internal bleeding

  • Abnormalities in the brain or spine, such as tumors, aneurysms, or herniated discs

  • Lung conditions, such as pneumonia, emphysema, or lung cancer

  • Abdominal or pelvic conditions, such as kidney stones, gallstones, or tumors

  • Heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease or heart failure

  • Joint or bone conditions, such as osteoporosis or arthritis

  • Blood vessel conditions, such as aneurysms or blood clots

  • Infections, such as abscesses or sinusitis

  • Digestive system conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease or diverticulitis

  • Cancer, such as lymphoma or liver cancer.

For more information, here is a great video:

What to Expect: CT Scan | Cedars-Sinai

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