Computed Tomography CT

CT imaging is provided at all facilities. The fastest available scanners make the exam much easier on the patient, provide enhanced diagnostic information and decrease the chance that sedation will be required for children and agitated adults. This technology allows us to obtain 3-D and other views without additional imaging.

A CT scan uses x-rays and computer technology to take multiple views of the inside of the body. Compared to regular x-rays, a CT scan can take clearer images of organs, bone, soft tissue, blood vessels and other parts of the body.

Swedish offers the following CT exams at our facilities:

  • CT of the Head or Neck

  • CT of the Chest, Abdomen and Pelvis (including Liver, Pancreas, Adrenals and CT IVP's)

  • CT Enterography

  • CT of the Extremities (includes Hip through Toes, Shoulder through Fingers)

  • CT of the Spine (Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, Sacral Joints, Sacrum and Coccyx)

  • CT Angiogram of the Head, Neck, Chest, Abdomen, Pelvis

  • CT for special procedures (Makoplasty, DePuy Tru-Match protocol, needle placement for Drainages, Biopsies, Chest Tube Placement, Chemotherapy Ablations and Fine Needle Aspirations)

  • Coronary CT and Calcium Scoring (Cherry Hill only)

Some of the primary uses for CT scans include:

  • Looking for bleeding inside the body
  • Studying the chest and abdomen
  • Determining the size and location of a tumor
  • Diagnosing and treating skeletal problems
  • Diagnosing blood vessel disease
  • Planning radiation treatments for cancer
  • Guiding biopsies and other tests
  • Planning surgery
  • Identifying injuries from trauma

Possible complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a CT scan, your doctor will review a list of possible complications. These may include:

  • Allergic reaction to contrast medication (if you are given contrast)
  • Kidney damage from contrast medication (if you are given contrast)

You are exposed to some radiation during a CT scan. Radiation exposure can increase your lifetime risk of cancer. This risk increases the more times you are exposed to radiation. Radiation exposure is more concerning for pregnant women and children. CT scans are usually not recommended for pregnant women. Another type of exam may be recommended, such as ultrasound or MRI, to avoid the risk of exposing your fetus to radiation.  Swedish strives to use the lowest dose of radiation possible for diagnostic interpretation.

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before your exam.

What to expect prior to exam

Before your exam your doctor will likely ask about:

  • Your medical history
  • Medications you take (including over the counter and herbal supplements)
  • Allergies
  • Whether you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant

Before your exam, follow your doctor's instructions regarding any changes to your medications or diet.

What to expect the day of your exam

When you arrive for your exam

  • You may need to complete a CT Screening Form and a health care professional will explain the test and answer any questions you may have
  • You will remove your clothes and put on a gown or robe. A locker will be supplied to secure your belongings.
  • You will remove all jewelry, hair clips, dentures and other objects that could make the images hard to read (please leave valuables at home)
  • If your CT scan includes oral contrast material, you will need to drink the contrast up to two hours prior to the test

Description of the test

You will lie (usually on your back) on a movable bed. The bed will slide into the donut-shaped CT scanner. Depending on the type of scan, an IV line may be placed in your hand or arm. A saline solution and contrast material may be injected into your vein during the exam. The technologist will leave the room. You will be given instructions over an intercom. The machine will take a series of pictures of the area of your body that is being studied. Your bed may move slightly between pictures.

What to expect after your exam

You will need to wait for the technologist to review your images. In some cases, more images will need to be taken. After the exam you can return to your normal routine. If you received contrast, drink plenty of fluids to help your kidneys remove the contrast from your body.

How long will it take?

The exam is about 10-15 minutes, unless you are drinking oral contrast. Drinking oral contrast adds 30 minutes to two hours. Total time you will be at the health care facility is 30 minutes to 3 hours. When you schedule your appointment this information will be available to you.

Will it hurt?

CT exams are painless. If you receive contrast, you may feel some discomfort when the IV is placed and/or removed. You may feel warm and flushed if contrast is injected into your vein or have a metallic taste in your mouth.

Exam Results

A board certified radiologist will interpret your images and create a report for your doctor. Swedish utilizes PACS and EPIC. All images are digitally archived to your electronic medical record. Same day test results are available due to innovative voice recognition technology. Reports are sent by internet, fax or electronic record to your doctor. Please call your doctor for results.

Call your doctor

Complications are rare. If you were given contrast, call your doctor if any of the following occurs after the exam:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Swollen, itchy eyes
  • Tightness of the throat
  • Difficulty breathing

Swedish CT locations and outpatient appointment times