CT Scan of the Head, Here's What You Should Know

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CT Scan of the Head, Here's What You Should Know
CT Scan of the Head, Here's What You Should Know

CT scan of the head is a medical examination that combines X-ray technology with a computer system to produce images of various tissues and structures inside the head, such as the skull, brain, paranasal sinuses, and eye sockets

CT scan of the head is useful to assist doctors in diagnosing a condition related to head injury or injury as well as to determine the treatment plan that will be used. In addition, doctors may also use a CT scan of the head to guide medical procedures, such as surgery, biopsy, or radiation therapy for brain cancer.

Head CT Scan, Here's What You Should Know - Alodokter

Indication of Head CT Scan

CT scan of the head is able to produce images that are more detailed, fast, and accurate than ordinary X-rays, so as to provide more data related to the medical information needed. CT scan of the head is usually used to detect the following conditions:

  • Defects or fractures of the skull
  • abnormal blood vessels
  • Atrophy of brain tissue
  • Birth defects
  • brain aneurysm
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Liquid buildup in the skull
  • Infection or swelling
  • Injury to head, face or brain
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • Enlargement of the brain cavity in patients with hydrocephalus

The doctor may also recommend a CT scan of the head if you experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Fainted
  • severe headache
  • Seizure
  • Sudden change in behavior or way of thinking
  • Hearing or vision impairment
  • Muscle weakness, numbness and tingling
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing

Preparation Before Head CT Scan

Here are some preparations that patients need to do before undergoing a head CT scan procedure:

  • Wear comfortable and loose clothing in anticipation of not being given special clothes during the procedure
  • Removing metal objects that stick to the body, including eyeglasses jewelry, dentures, hair clips, hearing aids, bras with wires, and piercings
  • Do not eat or drink for a few hours before undergoing the procedure
  • Informing the doctor about all the drugs you are taking and allergies you have
  • Informing the doctor about the symptoms or history of the disease experienced, especially heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or kidney
  • Tell the doctor if you are pregnant or there is a possibility of becoming pregnant

Head CT Scan Procedure

The head CT scan is generally painless, the process is fast, and easy. Usually, this examination can take 10-15 minutes. The following are the stages of a head CT scan:

  • Patients will be asked to lie on their back on a bed that has been adjusted to the needs of the examination.
  • Straps and pillows can be used to help the patient stay in the correct position and stay still during the procedure.
  • Officers will monitor and communicate with patients through intercoms connected in both rooms.
  • During the examination, the patient is not allowed to move so that the images are clear and not blurry.
  • Under certain conditions, the patient may be given a sedative to prevent him from moving a lot, because movement will affect the image.
  • In some CT scans, a contrast agent can be used to clarify the visualization of the area of ​​the head to be analyzed.
  • During the examination, the patient's bed will move slowly into the CT scan tool which is shaped like a donut with a short tunnel in the middle.
  • The scanner will start rotating around the patient, then the X-ray will pass through the body and start scanning.
  • The X-ray data is detected by the scanner and sent to the computer to obtain detailed and immersive 2D or 3D images.
  • Patients may be asked to hold their breath during the procedure.
  • After the procedure is complete, the patient will be removed from the scanner.

After Head CT Scan

There are several things after a head CT scan that are important to know, namely:

  • After the scanning process is complete, the patient will be asked to wait until the staff verifies that the image is of good quality to be analyzed accurately.
  • Patients are allowed to go home and resume normal activities after the results of the CT scan of the head are considered good enough.
  • The results of the examination will be reviewed by a radiologist. If necessary, the doctor will advise the patient to undergo another examination in order to get a more accurate examination result.
  • A follow-up CT scan of the head is also sometimes needed to monitor whether the treatment was successful or whether the abnormality experienced has changed.
  • If abnormalities are found, the doctor will determine the appropriate treatment according to the patient's condition.

Side Effects of CT Scan

The head CT scan is a relatively safe procedure and does not cause direct side effects. However, CT scans that use contrast agents are usually at risk of side effects. Some of the side effects that often occur are:

  • Feeling like a scratch and a metallic taste sensation in the mouth when the contrast agent enters the vein
  • Nausea, vomiting, itching, or sneezing in people who are allergic to the iodine found in the contrast agent

You don't need to worry too much because the allergic reaction is actually only mild, harmless, and usually lasts less than 1 minute.

In addition to the risk of allergies due to the use of contrast agents, the use of CT scans with high radiation levels is known to cause cancer. However, the chances are still very small and the benefits of an accurate CT scan far outweigh the risks.

For pediatric patients who tend to be more sensitive to radiation exposure, a head CT scan is usually done if it is really needed and at a low dose.

Those are some important things you need to know about head CT scan. If you still have questions about this medical procedure, you can consult a radiologist before undergoing it.

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