A CT (CAT) scan is a painless, non-invasive exam that gives your doctor a clear view of organs and other internal body structures that can't be seen clearly on conventional X-rays. It uses a sophisticated X-ray system coupled with a high-speed computer to produce detailed pictures of tissues and bone.
While a CT scan can help evaluate most parts of the body and aid in the diagnosis of many conditions, a few common uses of this procedure include:
- Calcium scoring
- Examination of the chest, abdomen and pelvis
- Diagnosis of spinal injuries
- Diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases
- Detection of different types of cancer
- Examination of trauma patients
Preparing for a CT Scan
If you have been scheduled for a CT scan, your doctor will explain the restrictions on food and drink necessary to prepare for the exam. In addition, you can also view instructions based on the type of scan you will be receiving:
Be sure to let your doctor know if you are allergic to iodine, are taking glucophage medication for diabetes, have had a recent exam using barium, or if you are (or could be) pregnant.
What to Expect During a CT Scan
During a CT scan, you will lie on a movable table that moves your body through a large donut-shaped ring. As you pass through the ring, the scanner takes a complete 360-degree picture of you and sends it to a computer. The table moves a small distance (less than ½ inch) and another picture is taken and sent to the computer. This process is repeated until the computer has enough information to reconstruct a complete image of your internal anatomy.
During the exam you will hear the sound of the motors and gears. It is important that you lie still because any movement can blur the images. The scan could take 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the part of your body being scanned. After the scan you will able to return to your normal activities.
You may be given CT barium (drinkable) or an intravenous (IV) contrast agent for the scan. These contrast materials show up as pure white on the X-ray, making the organs more visible.
After the exam has been completed, a radiologist will read your CT scan and report to your physician on the results of the test. Your doctor will then explain the results to you and recommend follow-up treatment, if needed.
Low-Dose Lung Cancer Screening
Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined and nearly half of all cases are in the most advanced stage at diagnosis. Hunt Regional’s ACR-designated Lung Cancer Screening Centers offer a fast and easy lung cancer screening that can detect cancer before it becomes symptomatic. Studies show that screening with low dose CT can reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer by 20%.
Screening is recommended for individuals 55+ with a history of heavy smoking. The cost of screening is completely covered by most insurance carriers. Ask your doctor for a referral today and breathe easier.
A cardiac CT scan for coronary calcium is a non-invasive way of identifying the location and extent of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. Because calcium is a marker of coronary artery disease (CAD), the amount of calcium detected on a cardiac CT scan is a convenient way of evaluating whether you may be at increased risk for heart attack.
Coronary Disease Risk Factors
- High blood cholesterol levels
- Family history of heart attacks
- High blood pressure
- Cigarette smoking
- Overweight or obese
- Physical inactivity
The goal of cardiac CT scanning for calcium scoring is to determine if CAD is present and to what extent. The exam takes little time, causes no pain, and does not require an injection of contrast material. No radiation remains in a patient’s body after a CT examination.
Talk to your doctor about the benefit of knowing your calcium score and whether you may be at increased risk for heart attack. Hunt Regional Medical Center offers a cash price of $90 for cardiac CT exams for calcium scoring.
Find a CT Scanning Location
We offer CT scans at five locations in Northeast Texas:
To view other types of diagnostic testing and at which location(s) each service is offered, visit our main Imaging and Radiology page.