Computed Tomography (CT)
Computed tomography (CT) is a noninvasive test that uses special X-ray equipment to create multiple cross-sectional images of the inside of your body. These images can be immediately combined to create a 3-D picture. Your doctor will be able to see your internal organs, bones and blood vessels in more detail than with a traditional X-ray, meaning you’ll get a quicker, more accurate diagnosis.
At UNC Medical Center, our advanced technology quickly produces high-quality scans with excellent resolution while using low doses of radiation. You can be assured you’re receiving excellent care from professionals with specialized training because we’re accredited in CT by the American College of Radiology (ACR).
If your child needs a CT scan, rest assured we use the lowest, “child-size” dose of radiation possible. We’re ACR-accredited in pediatric CT imaging and supporters of Image Gently, a national campaign to reduce radiation doses from medical exams.
When Are CT Scans Used?
Because they’re quick, accurate and noninvasive, CT scans are used to diagnose a variety of conditions. Your doctor may use a CT scan to diagnose:
CT scans also may be used to guide a surgeon during a biopsy procedure.
If you’re pregnant, please ask your physician whether it’s OK for you to get a CT scan.
CT Scan: What to Expect
When you come to UNC Medical Center for a CT scan, wear loose, comfortable clothing. Your doctor may ask you to avoid food or fluids before the test; and you should follow instructions for the most accurate results.
You may be asked to change into a hospital gown, or to remove jewelry, glasses, hearing aids or dentures before your test. For some CT tests, you’ll be asked to swallow or receive an injection of contrast material, or dye, to make areas of your body show up better on the X-ray images.
CT scans are painless, and most take only a few minutes. You’ll lie on a narrow table, which gently glides into the center of a donut-shaped CT scanner. Inside the tunnel, a ring will rotate around you, taking X-ray pictures. You’ll be asked to lie very still and may occasionally be asked to hold your breath to avoid blurry images.
A technologist will supervise the exam from an adjacent room. Your technologist will be able to see, hear and speak with you throughout the test; and you can communicate with an intercom.
Your CT Scan Results
A radiologist will interpret your results and give a report to your doctor. Your doctor will share the results with you and discuss any necessary follow-up care.