What is a CT scan?
CT (computerized tomography) uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of your body. It is a quick and non-invasive examination. A CT scanner is a ring-shaped machine which uses a series of X-ray beams to scan parts of your body as you lie on a bed that moves backwards and forwards through the ring. The images produced by a CT scan are more detailed than standard X-rays (which use a single beam of radiation) and can give views of structures inside the body including internal organs, blood vessels, bones and tumours.
How long does the CT scan take?
After positioning you on the scanner bed, the scan itself just takes a matter of seconds. A full body scan takes approximately 10 seconds. Depending on what part of the body is being scanned it may be necessary to drink an oral contrast agent to show the bowel or to have an intravenous contrast injection into an arm vein to show the blood vessels and internal organs in more detail.
What conditions can be diagnosed by a CT scan?
A CT scan can investigate any area of the body, and allows the radiologist to assess the nature, location and extent of disease. CT can be used to diagnose or monitor many different health conditions, and also can be used to guide diagnostic biopsies of internal structures (eg lungs) and therapeutic drainages of abdominal abscesses. CT is particularly useful in the following:
• Diagnosis and monitoring of most forms of cancer
• Urgent investigation of acute chest and abdominal pain
• High-resolution cardiac imaging for investigation of heart disease
• Virtual colonoscopy to screen for bowel cancer
• 3D bone reconstructions following trauma and for planning orthopaedic surgery
• Non-invasive angiography to visualize blood vessels
• Brain imaging
Is CT scanning safe?
The amount of radiation you are exposed to is safe and is not enough to cause harm. However CT scans are not recommended for pregnant women because of the risk to the unborn baby. Children are more at risk than adults from an accumulation of radiation doses and should only have a CT scan if it is justified by a serious condition that puts them at a higher risk, or if other tests such as ultrasound have been inconclusive. If a clinician refers you for a CT scan, the benefits of having the scan will outweigh any potential radiation risk.
How do I book a private CT scan?
You need to ask your clinician for a CT scan referral letter. Referring clinicians can click here to download a CT scan referral form. Once we have received the referral form, a member of our team will then call you to arrange a convenient appointment.