Sentara offers CT services at advanced imaging centers across Hampton Roads. Sentara staff takes great care to ensure patients understand the procedure and feel comfortable before and during their exam. The results will be read by a radiologist specially trained to read CT scans and other diagnostic images.
What is a CT scan?
CT, which stands for computed tomography (sometimes referred to as a “CAT” scan), is a fast, painless diagnostic tool doctors use to see inside the body. Physicians use the information they get from a CT scan to rule out or confirm the presence of certain abnormalities or diseases.
CT uses X-rays in conjunction with advanced computer technology to create accurate detailed images of your bones, organs, blood vessels and even your heart, in extraordinarily fine detail.
Since Sentara uses some of the most advanced multi-slice CTs available, some tests can be performed in mere seconds.
What can a CT scan tell my doctor?
A CT scan is used to:
Study the head, bones, organs, blood vessels and even the heart in extraordinarily fine detail
Diagnose many different cancers, including lung, liver and pancreatic cancer, since the image allows a physician to confirm the presence of a tumor and measure its size, precise location and the extent of the tumor's involvement with other nearby tissue.
Detect, diagnosis and treat vascular diseases that can lead to stroke, kidney failure or even death.
Assess for pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung vessels), as well as for abdominal aortic aneurysms.
Diagnose and treat spinal problems and injuries to the hands, feet and other skeletal structures because it can clearly show even very small bones as well as surrounding tissues such as muscle and blood vessels.
Information from a CT scan can be saved and stored on a computer for further study.
How do I prepare for my exam?
Download a brochure with more details on a CT imaging, including how to prepare and obtaining test results.
How you prepare for your CT scan depends on what part of the body is being examined and the protocols used in your particular facility.
Patients may be asked to pick up contract material the day before the exam. You will be given instructions on when to drink it, as well as follow up instructions after the exam. You may be asked not to eat or drink anything before the exam.
Once at the hospital, the staff may ask you to change into a hospital gown.
If you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant, or have allergies to iodine, you should inform your doctor and CT technologist prior to your exam
How is the test performed?
CT is a painless, non-invasive test that will not hurt at all. You may be asked to arrive at the facility 15 or 30 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time.
Your exam might require that a contrast agent be given intravenously or orally that will make your blood vessels and tissues more visible. The contrast agent will leave your body naturally within a few hours. If your exam requires a contrast agent, be sure to tell the technologist if you have any allergies, especially to iodine or shellfish.
A tech will position a patient for the exam. Once the patient is in place, the table will move quickly through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for the scans. Then, the table will move slowly through the machine as the actual CT scanning is performed.
During your exam, a technologist will step into a control room to conduct the actual exam. You may notice a mechanical noise coming from the scanner. This is the X-ray tube being activated and rotating around your body.
Patients may be asked to hold their breath during the scanning. Any movement might require the exam to be repeated. The length of your CT exam depends on which particular study, or studies, your doctor has ordered. Most exams are quick, lasting just a few minutes.
Most exams are quick – lasting only a few minutes. When the examination is completed, patients will be asked to wait until the technologist verifies that the images are of high enough quality for accurate interpretation.
Are there risks?
The CT scan exposes patients to radiation. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk. CT scanning is, in general, not recommended for pregnant women unless medically necessary because of potential risk to the baby. Children should have a CT study only if it is essential for making a diagnosis and should not have repeated CT studies unless absolutely necessary.
How will I find out the results?
Your CT scan is supervised and interpreted by a sub-specialized radiologist, a physician specially trained in reading CT scans and other diagnostic images. The radiologist will interpret the findings of your CT and prepare a report for your referring physician. You should receive the results from the physician who sent you for your diagnostic study.
– For more information on the risks and benefits of a CT scan, see the RadiologyInfo website.
CT Scan Locations:
Advanced Imaging at Sentara Heart Hospital, Norfolk
Advanced Imaging Center, BelleHarbour
Advanced Imaging Center, First Colonial, Virginia Beach
Advanced Imaging Center, Sentara Independence
Advanced Imaging Center, Leigh, Norfolk
Advanced Imaging Center, Sentara Port Warwick, Newport News
Advanced Imaging Center, Sentara Princess Anne, Virginia Beach
Advanced Imaging Center – Greenbrier, Chesapeake
Advanced Imaging Center, Sentara St. Luke's, Isle of Wight
Advanced Imaging Center, Wainwright, Norfolk
Geddy Outpatient Center, Williamsburg
Sentara CarePlex Hospital, Hampton
Sentara Leigh Hospital, Norfolk
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital
Sentara Obici Hospital, Suffolk
Sentara Princess Anne Hospital
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital
Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center