CT Scan, Here's What You Should Know

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CT Scan, Here's What You Should Know
CT Scan, Here's What You Should Know

Computerized tomography scan (CT scan) is a procedure that uses a combination of X-ray or X-ray technology and a special computer system to view conditions inside the body from various angles, whether for diagnosis, medical treatment, or treatment evaluation

CT scan results have a more detailed quality and depth than X-ray photos. To get a clearer picture, sometimes it is necessary to give a contrast agent that is injected into a vein or taken by mouth.

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

CT Scan Indication

CT scans can be used by doctors for the following purposes:

  • Diagnosing abnormalities in muscles and bones
  • Detect the location of tumors, infections, or blood clots
  • To detect wounds or bleeding in internal organs
  • Guiding the course of a medical procedure, such as surgery, biopsy, and radiation therapy
  • Monitor the progress of the disease
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the given treatment

The following are examples of using CT scans on body parts:

  • Chest Chest CT scan is used to see whether there is infection in the internal organs of the chest, pulmonary embolism, lung cancer, spread of cancer from other organs to the chest area, or problems with the heart, esophagus (esophagus), and large blood vessels (aorta).

  • Stomach CT scan of the abdomen is used to detect cysts, abscesses, tumors, bleeding, aneurysms, or foreign bodies in the abdomen, as well as to see whether there is enlargement lymph nodes, diverticulitis, and appendicitis.

  • Urinary tractThe application of CT scan to the urinary tract is intended to detect urinary tract narrowing, kidney stones, bladder stones, and tumors in the kidneys or bladder.

  • Pelvic Pelvic CT scan can be used to detect disorders of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or prostate gland.

  • Legs or armsCT scan of the legs or arms is used to see the condition of bones and joints.

  • Head CT scan of the head can be used to detect tumors, infections, or bleeding inside the head, and to see if there are skull fractures after a head injury.

  • Spine A CT scan of the spine is done to see the structure and gaps of the spine, and to check the condition of the spinal cord.

CT Scan Alert

In general, a CT scan is a safe, fast, and painless procedure. However, there are several things that patients need to know before undergoing it, namely:

  • Fetus and children are more susceptible to the dangers of radiation exposure. Therefore, pregnant women and children are generally not advised to do a CT scan.
  • The contrast fluid used in CT scans can cause a number of side effects, including anaphylactic reactions. Tell your doctor immediately if you have a history of allergies, especially to contrast agents or iodine.
  • Patients need to inform the doctor about medicines, supplements, vitamins, and herbal products that are being taken. The doctor may ask the patient to stop taking certain drugs.
  • Breastfeeding mothers who undergo CT scans with contrast fluid do not need to stop breastfeeding. However, if you want to feel safe, it is recommended to pump breast milk first to meet the baby's needs up to 1-2 days after the CT scan.
  • CT scan can trigger fear in people with claustrphobia. Therefore, patients who have this condition need to consult a doctor so that they can get a sedative before the procedure.

Before CT Scan

The following are some of the preparations that need to be done before the CT scan procedure:

  • Understanding blood tests to see kidney function, if you are going to do a CT scan with a contrast agent
  • Do not eat or drink a few hours before the procedure, especially for patients who will use contrast agents
  • Consuming laxatives, for patients who will undergo imaging in the abdomen
  • Removing metal objects, such as watches, jewelry, glasses, and belts so that imaging results are not disturbed
  • Change clothes with special clothes that have been provided by the hospital

Contrast can be given in several ways, depending on which part of the body is being examined. The following are ways of administering a contrast agent in a CT scan procedure:

  • Oral (taken)

    Patients will be given an oral contrast agent, especially if a CT scan is done to see the condition of the esophagus (esophagus), stomach, or intestines. When taken, the contrast agent may feel unpleasant.

  • Injection

    In a CT scan performed to see the condition of the gallbladder, urinary tract, liver, or blood vessels, the doctor will inject a contrast agent through a vein veins in the arm to clarify the picture of the organ. The patient may feel a warm sensation on the body or a metallic taste in the mouth after the injection is made.

  • Enema

    In a CT scan performed to examine the condition of the large intestine, a contrast agent will be inserted through the patient's rectum. The patient may feel bloated and uncomfortable during the procedure.

If a CT scan is performed on a child, the doctor may prescribe an anesthetic so that the child can relax while undergoing the procedure. The reason is, if the body moves during a CT scan, the results can be less clear so it is difficult to read.

CT Scan Procedure

After doing all the preparations, the patient will be asked to lie down on a bed equipped with pillows, belts, and head restraints to avoid moving the body during the procedure.

The CT scan room is only allowed for patients. The radiologist will operate the machine from another room while monitoring and communicating with the patient via the intercom connected in both rooms.

Furthermore, the patient will be put into a CT scan machine that is shaped like a donut. The machine will spin while imaging is in progress. Each round will capture a body image piece by piece.

Sometimes, the radiologist will ask the patient to inhale, hold, and exhale during the procedure to get a clear picture.

In addition, the patient's bed may also be moved to get an image of certain body parts, but the patient is not allowed to move during the process because it can damage the image.

During the procedure, there was no pain. The patient may only feel uncomfortable being unable to move for a few minutes. The patient may also hear noises, such as ticking or buzzing, while the machine is running.

Taking pictures with a CT scan machine generally only takes a few seconds to minutes, depending on the part of the body being examined. However, overall from preparation to completion, a CT scan takes about 30–60 minutes.

The doctor will explain the results of the CT scan a few days or weeks after the procedure.

After CT Scan

In general, patients are allowed to go home and resume their normal activities after the CT scan is performed. However, for patients who are given a contrast agent, it will be advised to wait in the hospital for at least 1 hour to anticipate an allergic reaction.

Doctors will also advise patients to drink lots of water so that the kidneys can get rid of the contrast substance more quickly through urine.

Meanwhile for patients who are given sedatives, they are not allowed to drive a vehicle and are advised to be escorted by family or relatives when going home from the hospital.

CT Scan Complications

Radiation exposure can indeed increase the risk of cancer. However, the radiation exposure used in CT scans is very small and is considered safe.

In addition, giving contrast agent by injection can cause mild allergic reactions, such as hives, hives, red rashes, or burning sensations all over the body. However, these reactions may go away on their own or with the use of antihistamines.

Notify the doctor immediately if the contrast agent causes a severe allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock, such as:

  • severe itching and hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart pounding
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling of the eyelids, lips, tongue, or throat

Although it is very rare, giving contrast by injection can also cause kidney failure. This complication is more at risk in people with diabetes, dehydration, or kidney disease.

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