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What is CT scan – Uses, Procedure, Safety and Cost

CT or Computed Tomography scans are science’s gift to mankind, because without CTs doctors would need to cut open patients to know what exactly was wrong within their body. CT scans can image the organs within our body and various disease processes in the organs without even touching us. A big thanks to Godfrey Hounsfield.

CT scan – How it works

A CT scan machine emits Xrays from various angles around our body and by using reconstructive algorithms, produces a 3D reconstruction of the bones and organs within our body. Denser parts of our body like bones appear white in a CT image and softer organs like liver, kidneys, brain appear in different shades of gray.

CT scan – Procedure

For CT scans of abdomen, you may be asked to come in overnight fasting (no food or liquid consumption after a light dinner the day before). For rest of the CT scans, no preparation is necessary. If your physician or radiologist asks for a contrast study (click here to know what is contrast study and why doctors ask it), you should not have eaten anything for atleast 4 hours before the contrast injection. A blood test to estimate kidney function (creatinine level) is also needed before contrast injection.

Its better to bring a soft cotton dress without any metal clips or hooks for CT scans. Belts, Chains, anything in shirt/pant pockets should be removed before a CT scan.

Once inside the CT room, You will be asked to lie in a table and the table along with you slide in and out of the CT gantry (the hollow round thing in the machine) a few times for your scanning to complete. The entire process takes usually less than 5 minutes and the scanning usually takes only a few seconds to a minute. The machine may give off whirring sounds when you move in and out, don’t be worried its just taking a slow photograph of your body.

The technician may ask you to hold your breath for short intervals (10 to 30 seconds) during an abdomen or thorax scan so that your body organs do not move and a perfect image is captured. It is imperative that you lie very still for those few seconds of scanning time to get a good image.

CT scan – Safety and Side effects

CT scans have no immediate side effects. Since CT scan emits Xrays to scan your body, there is a risk of radiation to your body. Radiation may cause cancer, and I stress MAY CAUSE cancer. There is no clear data as of now, as to how much radiation or how many CT scans can cause cancer. It is postulated that too many CT scans in a short span of years or in a young age can cause cancer without concrete proof. Click here for A detailed article on CT and Radiation risks.

The reason why still more CT scans are taken is, benefits of diagnosing a disease with CT scans outweigh the harm caused by radiation risk. For example, its always better to detect appendicitis by a CT at the earliest. Otherwise it may burst and result in complications. Thus when the benefits outweigh the risks, A CT is done.

Patients with pacemakers, metal implants, aneurysm coiling, hearing aids, drainage tubes, intravenous lines, catheters can safely undergo a CT scan. Pregnant ladies should not undergo a CT scan unless it is deemed extremely necessary (when the mother is gravely sick) due to the risks of radiation to the unborn baby.

Doing a contrast study can result in allergic reactions in a few patients and is fatal very rarely. Allergic reactions can range from itching to difficulty in breathing or swallowing. Inform your doctor if you get any allergic reaction, since almost all of them can be safely treated with proper medication. Lactating mothers are advised not to breast feed upto 24 hours after contrast injection. Contrast study is not usually done in renal failure patients.

CT Scan – When is it done

A CT scan can image any part in your body from head to toe. The common indications for a CT scan range from abdomen pain, head ache, breathing difficulty, chronic coughing, injuries etc. For each and every patient and for each and every disease the reasons are unique to get a CT scan.

Read what are the differences between a CT scan and MRI scan and when each of them is prescribed.

CT Scan – Cost

The following are the prices in our Aarthi scans and labs. We are the most affordable diagnostic service provider in India and transparency is our motto.
As a routine, we charge lesser prices in night time (8PM to 12 mid night, all through the year) to help patients in need. The charges are,

  • Cost of CT scans is Rs 1500 to 3500 per study
  • Cost of CT scans in night is Rs 1000 to 2000 per study
  • Cost of CT Contrast study is Rs 2000

Note – Special studies like Angiogram, Cisternogram, Sinogram etc are priced differently than above charges.If you have any doubts or have anything more to add, please comment below.Spread the knowledge. Share this article in Twitter, Facebook.

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