Head / Temporal bone CT scan
What is a CT scan of the head / temporal bones?
Head CT uses a thin beam of X-ray and a rapidly moving X-ray tube to acquire data from different angles around your head, which is used to create cross sectional images. CT scans of the head/brain can provide more detailed information about brain tissue and brain structures than standard X-rays of the head. Therefore, this can provide more information related to injuries and brain diseases, and can be used to evaluate patients with headaches, stroke symptoms, masses, or cancers elsewhere in the body. Temporal bone CT is a limited kind of head CT that focuses on the lower part of the skull and the surrounding soft tissues, and is often used in patients with hearing loss, chronic ear infections, and middle and inner ear diseases.
How do I prepare for the exam?
- Arrive 30 minutes prior to your exam.
- Patients wearing earrings and certain facial piercings will need to remove their jewelry.
What will happen during the exam?
Depending on the reason for your exam, you may have an IV placed in your arm. Contrast material will be injected through this IV.
During the exam you will lie on your back with your arms in a comfortable position. Your head will be placed in a special holder which keeps your head still during the exam. Once the exam has started, the table will rise up and move in and out of a large circle. If you are receiving an injection of contrast, the technologist will cover some very specific medical history questions with you. After this the scan will start. A few images will be taken so that the technologist can set up the area to be scanned. It is important that you hold still.
Some patients will have their scan without any injection of contrast, some will have non contrast enhanced images followed by an injection of contrast, and some patients will have a scan with only an injection of contrast. The radiologist decides if the patient requires contrast based on the diagnosis provided to us by your physician.
For patients that receive an injection, the technologist will stay with you for a few seconds after the injection starts to monitor your IV site.
How long will the procedure take and how will I learn my results?
Depending on the reason for your test, the procedure can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.
You will receive the results of the exam from your doctor.
What will happen after the exam?
After the exam is complete and you are feeling well, your IV will be removed and you will be released. There are some instances, such as head trauma, when the radiologist must review your exam before you can be released.
A technologist will process your images using a computer. A radiologist will evaluate the images within 24 hours and dictate a report. A report will be sent to your physician.
Radiologyinfo.org for Patients
The radiology information resource for patients. RadiologyInfo.org tells you how various X-ray, CT, MRI, ultrasound, radiation therapy and other procedures are performed. It also addresses what you may experience and how to prepare for the exams. The website contains over 200 procedure, exam and disease descriptions covering diagnostic and interventional radiology, nuclear medicine, radiation therapy and radiation safety and is updated frequently with new information. All material on the RadiologyInfo.org website is reviewed and approved by experts in the field of radiology from the ACR and RSNA, as well as other professional radiology organizations.