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What is an CT Scan for Joints?
Joints are the places where two bones come together, such as the knee, shoulder, elbow, or hip. They allow us to move our bodies and to bear weight. Joints can be damaged by arthritis, infection, or injury. A CT scan (computed tomography) is a test that uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed pictures of bones, muscles, fat, and blood vessels. A CT scan of the joints can help find problems such as fractures, tumors, or arthritis. It can also help guide biopsies and surgeries. The test is usually done in an outpatient center or hospital. You will lie on a table and the table will slide into a donut-shaped machine. An X-ray technician will take pictures from different angles while you hold your breath for short periods of time. The test usually takes about 30 minutes. Joint CT scans are painless and have no side effects. During the test, you might feel a little claustrophobic from being inside the machine for a long time. If you have trouble staying still during the scan, you might be given medicine to help you relax (sedative). If you have an allergy to sedatives or iodine contrast dye, tell your doctor before the test so that other arrangements can be made.
When and Why CT Scan for Joints is Prescribed?
Your doctor may order a CT scan of your joints if you have pain, swelling, or injury that cannot be easily diagnosed with an x-ray. It can help to accurately diagnose the cause and plan any treatment needed. The test may also be useful in evaluating joint replacement surgery, looking for fractures that are not seen on regular X-rays, and finding signs of infections. It can also show signs of arthritis or tumors. If you are having a knee replacement, your doctor may order a CT scan to create a 3D image of the joint before surgery. This is important because the surgeon needs to know exactly what structures he/she will be working on during the procedure.