What Is a CT Scan, and Is It Right for You?
The Body CT Scan Division at Tufts Medical Center provides safe, noninvasive diagnostic and interventional radiology services.
We use state-of-the-art CT scanners for all our procedures. These machines combine a series of X-rays into a detailed image of a specific body part, such as your brain, chest or leg. Our radiologists can view the resulting scans layer by layer or as a single three-dimensional image.
Our expertise in taking and interpreting CT scans can help you get an early, accurate diagnosis of your condition. We also perform CT-guided interventions (e.g. biopsies, fluid drainages) that may provide you with a convenient alternative to painful and invasive surgical procedures.
Our highly skilled CT technologists work with Tufts MC doctors to:
- Assess internal injuries after an accident.
- Pinpoint the location of benign or malignant tumors.
- Evaluate bone deterioration from osteoporosis.
- Detect pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs) or kidney stones.
- Guide fine-needle tissue biopsies.
- Perform chemoembolization to deliver anti-cancer drugs directly into a tumor.
Are There Risks?
Some people are anxious about radiation exposure from CT scanners (which have been in use since the 1970s). However, we use the latest low-dose equipment to reduce your risk of unnecessary exposure. Our CT scans are safe, fast, painless and noninvasive, and most people feel these benefits offset any risks.
Meet the Body CT Scan Team
Our team includes many radiologists who focus on a particular aspect of medical imaging, such as thoracic (chest) radiology. Our expert radiologists work closely with your doctor to provide diagnosis and treatment that is tailored to your specific needs.
Collaboration among your doctors is a cornerstone of care at Body CT Scan and throughout Tufts MC. Even before you arrive at our office, your radiologist will often consult with colleagues here or with your referring doctor to determine which test will yield the best information about your condition. Our goal is to deliver radiology services that support high-quality care from diagnosis to follow-up.
At Tufts MC, all CT scans are performed by dedicated CT technologists. Our friendly and compassionate techs know how to calibrate the equipment to get the exact information your radiologist or referring doctor has requested. Furthermore, they understand the concerns patients sometimes have about CT technology and can give thoughtful answers to your questions. Patrick Garrett, our chief CT technologist, has been performing radiology exams for over 25 years.
What Is Contrast Media?
Contrast media is a dye that is administered orally or by IV (intravenously). Contrast is important when doctors need to examine of hard-to-see body parts such as vascular and bowel structures. If your exam requires contrast media, your technologist will review an informational consent form with you prior to the exam.
When contrast media is administered by IV, some patients experience a cool sensation in their arm, a warm tingle throughout their body or mild nausea. These are all completely normal. You will be able to speak to your technologist throughout your exam, so please let us know if you experience any unusual sensations.
How Should I Prepare for My CT Scan?
Very little preparation is required before a CT exam. If you will need contrast media during your exam, please do not eat solid foods for four hours prior to your appointment. In addition, if you will be taking oral contrast, please arrive 90 minutes early so you will have time to drink the solution.
If you are having CT-guided biopsy or drainage, please do not eat or drink after midnight the evening before your exam. It is also important that you arrange to have someone take you home after your appointment.
When you arrive for your appointment, please let your technologist know about any allergies you have (particularly shellfish allergies) or if you are or may be pregnant.
During Your Exam
During the exam, you will lie comfortably on an examination table, which moves through a large ring called a gantry. The gantry is relatively thin, so it is open and non-confining. Your technologist may also ask you to hold your breath or to refrain from swallowing for several seconds at various times during the exam. This helps us to keep the images in focus.
Although the scan takes only seconds to complete, your technologist may ask you to wait for a few minutes while he or she checks the images. You will be able to speak to your technologist while you wait.
After Your CT Scan
Following the exam, your radiologist will review your images and send a detailed report to your referring doctor. This report will include diagnostic information and recommendations for treatment. You will not be able to access the scan report directly.
If you have any questions about your CT scan, please call us at 617-636-5961.