Spine CT scan
What is a CT scan of the spine?
CT scanning of the spine uses a thin beam of X-ray and a rapidly moving X-ray tube to acquire data from different angles,which is used to create cross sectional images. CT scan of the spine can provide more detailed information about bone and soft tissue structures than standard X-rays of the spine. Therefore, this can provide more information related to injuries, infections and masses, and can be used to evaluate patients with neck or upper or lower back pain or after trauma.
How do I prepare for the exam?
- Arrive 20 minutes prior to exam time.
- There is no preparation for this exam.
- Patients should come in wearing comfortable clothing with no metal in the area to be scanned.
- Patients having their cervical spine scanned will need to remove all earrings, facial piercings and necklaces.
What will happen during the exam?
If you are having a cervical spine scan, you will be positioned on your back with your head in either a special holder or on a small cushion. You will enter the scanner headfirst. The table will move in and out of the large circle and the images will be taken. It is very important to hold still.
If you are having a thoracic or lumbar spine scan, you will be positioned on your back with your arms raised over your head. You will enter the scanner feet first. The table will move in and out of the large circle as the images are being taken. It is very important to hold still. There may be some breathing instructions during the scan, which the technologist will review with you prior to the scan.
How long will the exam take and how will I learn my results?
Depending on the scan to be done, and the complexity of the exam requested the scan could take 10 to 20 minutes, and you will get the results from your doctor.
What will happen after the exam?
After the exam, the 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.