Computerized Tomography (CT) or Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) uses a series of X-ray images and computer equipment to visualize the internal organs, soft tissues, blood vessels and bones of the body in a way not generally seen on normal X-rays. In seconds the technologist can obtain hundreds and even thousands of images as thin as a credit card from a single scan. In addition, the Radiologist (a physician specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of patients using radiologic technologies) or technologist can create images in 3D to further enhance the value of the procedure.
The CT technologists are registered through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and have taken additional training in their specialty of CT scanning. They work very closely with Radiologists to provide comprehensive, high quality, diagnostic studies that assist in diagnosing injury and illness.
The CT department at SJMHS offers patients the most advanced scanner technology available, providing images of very high quality with the lowest possible radiation dose. Higher quality images mean more information for your physician to diagnose and plan the treatment for your medical condition. Lower dose means increased safety for you. A CT scan is particularly helpful to quickly examine people who may have internal injuries from car accidents or other types of trauma. A CT scan can also visualize the brain and with the help of injected contrast material check for blockages or other problems in your blood vessels.
All of the SJMHS location (Ann Arbor, Brighton, Canton, Howell and Saline) are equipped with the latest in "low dose" technology. Our schedule allows for flexible scheduling of outpatient appointments, 7 days a week and into the evening. Hours of availability vary by location.
In addition to CT scanning of the head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities, SJMHS performs more complex procedures including:
- Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA) (Imaging of the blood vessels)
- Low Dose Coronary (Cardiac) CT
- Cardiac Screening for Plaque (Cardiac Scoring)
- Colonography, Screenings and Diagnostic Studies
- CT Guided Biopsies
- Low Dose Kidney Stone Studies
- Low Dose Lung Screening (for older patients with a >30 year history of smoking)
- CT Enterography (imaging for bowel disease)
If you have questions regarding the procedure your physician has ordered, please call (734) 712-3743 7 days a week, 24 hours a day to be connected with specialized staff that can answer your questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need an injection of contrast for my exam?
Depending on the type of procedure being done, you may receive an injection of contrast material (X-ray dye), or be asked to drink an oral contrast material (sometimes water). Some procedures require both. If your procedure requires you to drink an oral contrast, you will be informed by your physician office staff to arrive early. Some procedures require that you drink the contrast material one hour before the scan and others require a 2 hour drinking time. Please inform your physician in advance of any known allergies to the contrast. If you are allergic to the contrast material, be sure to contact your physician at least 2 days in advance of your appointment so that medication can be ordered for you. Please remember to drink plenty of water after the procedure is completed.
How should I dress for this exam?
All clothing for your exam must be free of metal, such as buttons, zippers, bras, suspenders and snaps. It is helpful to arrive for your exam with loose fitting clothing free of any metal. If your clothing contains any of these items, the staff will ask you to change into a hospital gown and give you a locker to place your personal belongings into during the procedure. We recommend that you come to your appointment in jogging sweats with only an elastic waistline and a T-shirt free of buttons, zippers, etc. In addition, you will also be asked to remove any jewelry you are wearing.
Can I take my medications?
You may take your medications the morning of your appointment with a small amount of water. You should bring a copy of your medications with you to your appointment. If you are a diabetic and are taking Metformin-containing medications, you should take them the morning of your appointment. You will need to discontinue these medications for 48 hours after your procedure or until you speak with your physician. Examples: Glucophage (Metformin), Glucovance (Glyburide/Metformin), Avandamet (Rosiglitazone/Metformin), Janumet (Metformin and Sitagliptin), Metaglip (Glipizide/Metformin), Riomet, etc. If you have an insulin pump, please notify the technologist before your procedure.
If you are having a biopsy and are taking a blood thinner medication, please contact your physician. These medications should be held until after your procedure is complete. Examples: Aspirin, Coumadin, Lovenox, Plavix, Heparin, etc.
Are CT examinations painful?
No, CT imaging itself is painless. CT imaging merely requires that the patient remain still during the examination, which is very short, usually just a few minutes.
CT imaging procedures that require the patient to receive intravenous (IV) contrast material (X-ray dye) may cause slight, temporary discomfort while the needle is placed and a warm flush feeling during the injection.
Are CT examinations safe?
Yes, CT imaging is considered a safe procedure. In general, the diagnostic benefit of a CT scan outweighs the risk of X-ray radiation exposure. Patients must inform the radiologist or technologist if they have a history of allergies (especially to medications or previous X-ray injections), diabetes, asthma, a heart condition, kidney problems, or thyroid conditions. Patients that are or could be pregnant should also let the technologist know before the procedure is started. Please discuss any concerns with your physician.
Is breast-feeding safe after an injection of IV contrast?
Yes, the American College of Radiology has determined that breastfeeding after receiving contrast material is safe. However, you may choose to pump breast milk prior to the CT procedure and store it for use during the 24-hour period following your procedure, so you can “pump and dump” the first 24 hours after your test. Always check with your physician for their specific recommendations.
Can I have a CT scan if I am pregnant?
If the possibility of pregnancy exists, please discuss your options with your physician in advance. He or she is best able to discuss any options that might be available. Please inform your CT technologist if you are pregnant or if there is even the remote possibility that you may be pregnant.
Can I bring a friend or relative into the CT scanner room with me?
No, CT uses X-ray and only the person being imaged should be in the CT scanner room during the procedure. For CT procedures on children, one escort can stay in the CT scanner room during the procedure. A lead gown will be provided to the escort.
How long will the CT procedure take?
Depending on the type of procedure being performed, the actual procedure scan time will typically be between 10 minutes and 20 minutes, not including preparation time.
Will my insurance cover this procedure?
Please check with your insurance company prior to your appointment to verify if your procedure will be covered.
What can I do to prepare myself for the procedure?
On the day of your CT scan, please do not eat any food or drink for 4 hours prior to your CT appointment. Restricting solid foods in order to avoid stomach distress is a common safety precaution before many medical procedures. You may take necessary medications with a small amount of water.
What should I expect when having a CT scan?
Plan to arrive in the department at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment, unless you have been instructed otherwise. This will allow the necessary time to complete your paperwork. You will be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire about your medical history, medications and allergies.
If you are having a CT scan of your abdomen or pelvis, you may need to arrive 1 to 2 hours before your appointment. You will be asked to drink barium, a fluid that helps mark your intestinal tract so that the radiologist may interpret your scans properly.
A CT technologist will introduce herself/himself to you, explain the procedure you are having, and answer your questions. Depending on the part of your body being scanned, you may be asked to remove any metal objects, such as jewelry, and change into a hospital gown.
If your test requires an (IV) injection, you may experience a brief warm feeling all over from the contrast given. This sensation passes very quickly.
How is the barium or IV contrast eliminated from the body?
The IV contrast is excreted by the kidneys and passes in the urine within a few hours. This will not color your urine. Barium administered orally passes through the intestine and is not absorbed. Occasionally, some patients do experience some diarrhea. This generally passes quite quickly. It is not necessary to take laxatives to eliminate barium used for a CT scan.
Will there be any after effects?
No, normal eating and activity may resume immediately after a CT scan.
When do I get the results?
A radiologist will interpret the images and a report will sent to the physician who ordered your procedure. Please follow up with your physician’s office on when and how you will receive the results of your CT / CTA procedure.