CT Scans, short for computed tomography scans, are a common type of imaging test ordered by doctors to help them diagnose certain medical conditions. If your doctor has ordered a head CT scan, you probably have a lot of questions about the procedure, and what to expect from it. In this blog post, we’ve tried to dispel the confusion so you have the facts you need in order to schedule your CT scan.

What is a Head CT Scan?

A head CT scan is a type of X-ray procedure that produces three-dimensional pictures of your head, referred to as “slices.” These slices allow your doctor to see your skull, brain, sinuses, eye sockets and more.

Why Might a Doctor Request a Head CT Scan?

CT scans of the head can help your doctor identify, or rule out, potential issues that can cause headache pain, dizziness, fainting, hearing or vision loss, abnormal behavior or other symptoms.

Some of the many conditions that can be diagnosed with the help of head CT scans include brain tumors, aneurysms, strokes, internal bleeding, brain infections, buildup of fluid, and more.

What is the Difference Between a Head CT Scan and a Brain MRI?

Head CT scans and brain MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging scans) both allow doctors a glimpse inside your head, however, they show different things.

Where CT scans produce pictures of the bones in the skull and can identify calcification or foreign bodies, MRIs are better at producing images of soft tissue. They may show more detail when an abnormality is present.

Each type of test has its own pros and cons. CT scans are much faster, taking just minutes to perform. CT scans are also safe for patients who have implanted medical devices in their bodies, whereas MRIs may not be recommended for those patients. MRIs take a longer time to perform, and may cause claustrophobia in some patients. CT scans are also generally less expensive than MRIs. Your doctor will ultimately recommend the test, or tests, he or she thinks will best diagnose your condition with the least amount of discomfort or inconvenience to you.

Preparing for Your Procedure

On the day of your CT scan, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything for a period of time before your scan. If your CT scan requires a contrast dye, the imaging center staff will administer this to you intravenously before your scan.

You may be asked to change into a hospital gown and to remove any jewelry for the scan itself.

Your head CT scan should be a very fast procedure, and you should not experience any pain from the X-rays themselves. Some patients are mildly uncomfortable because the test requires them to lie still on a hard surface. However, the duration of the test is very short, so any discomfort should be short-lived.

After your scan, the results will be sent to your doctor who will review them and discuss the diagnosis and next steps with you.

Choose AHI for Your Imaging Needs

If your doctor has ordered a CT scan for your head, choose the convenience of AHI‘s non-hospital imaging centers. With the same professional equipment and highly trained personnel, you’ll get the same experience you would at the hospital, without the added cost and inconvenience. To learn more and to find the center nearest you, contact us online, or call us at (855) MRI-CHOICE.