A Computed Tomography (CT) scan, a pivotal diagnostic radiology procedure, involves a series of x-ray images taken from different angles around a patient’s body. These images are processed by a computer to create detailed three-dimensional images of bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues, enabling clear visualisation of organs.

Purpose of CT Scan:

  • Diagnosis and Detection: Examines various organs to detect abnormalities, masses, cysts, fractures of bones, infection, swelling, or obstruction of blood vessels.
  • Monitoring Treatment: Crucial for monitoring the results of treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation, especially in cancer patients.
  • Guiding Procedures: Determines the location for biopsy to test for cancer or for draining fluid or pus from the body.

Benefits of CT Scan:

CT scans offer detailed and accurate results through three-dimensional images, proving superior to regular x-rays. This convenience and enhanced diagnostic capability make it a valuable tool for detecting abnormalities and diagnosing complex diseases.

Risks, Complications, and Side Effects:

Risks of Radiation:

  • Long-term Cancer Risk: Although minimal, CT scans do use radiation, slightly increasing long-term cancer risk. Special care is taken for children and pregnant patients, adjusting radiation levels appropriately.
  • Pregnancy Considerations: The procedure is not recommended for pregnant patients and those trying to conceive unless the benefits outweigh the risks.

Risks with Contrast Media:

  • Immediate Side Effects: Some patients may experience nausea, vomiting, feeling hot, or allergic reactions, which are usually mild and manageable.
  • Delayed Reactions: Rare but require immediate medical attention.
  • Contrast Induced Nephropathy (CIN): Special consideration is given to patients at risk, like those with diabetes or kidney disease.

What if the Procedure is Not Performed?

Delay or inaccuracy in diagnosis and treatment can occur, and diseases may go undetected in their earliest, most treatable stages.

Alternatives to CT Scan:

Alternatives include General x-ray, Ultrasound, MRI, and PET/CT, depending on the patient’s health, wellbeing, and medical team’s decision.