You may recognize Computed Tomography, by its initials: CT. A CT scan is a type of diagnostic imaging that provides more information about physical structures in the body than a standard x-ray can. Instead of a fixed x-ray tube, as an x-ray machine has, a CT scan has a moving x-ray tube and electronic x-ray detectors, which rotate around you as you lie still on a table. It produces cross-sectional slices of an area of your body (to visualize, imagine slicing a loaf of bread), which are reconfigured electronically in multiple planes. Your radiologist can look at a single slice of an image or can stack the slices together to create a 3-D model of the area of interest.

You can have a CT scan on any part of your body to help detect and evaluate problems, such as trauma injuries, vascular diseases, tumors, and skeletal problems.

At Radiology Associates of Richmond, we routinely perform CT scans of the head, the body and the vascular system (CT Angiography) to diagnose and evaluate problems related to blood vessels, such as blockages or aneurysms.

Let your radiologist know if you have any known allergies to contrast material, such as iodine.

What happens during a CT scan

During a CT scan, you will lie on a table that moves through an opening in the CT machine. We may ask you to hold your breath and to stay very still so we get clear images. Bones and other hard structures stop x-rays, which makes them easy to see on an x-ray or CT scan. If we need to look at soft tissue, such as the lungs or blood vessels, we may administer a contrast material (dye) intravenously to make the tissue more visible on the scan. We will ask you not to eat or drink for a few hours before the procedure if we use contrast material and will prescribe a medication if you are allergic to the dye. The CT scanner will send the images to a computer workstation in another room, where a radiologist can manipulate them. The actual scan only takes a few minutes.

Leave all metal objects at home or remove them prior to the procedure, including jewelry, eyeglasses, hairpins, piercings—even underwire bras.

After your procedure, Radiology Associates of Richmond will interpret your test results and then send your physician a report so he or she can discuss your results and next steps with you.