Computed Tomography (CT Scan)


Like an MRI, a CT scan is a non-invasive procedure to see the organs inside of your body.

Non-invasive means that with a CT, doctors do not have to cut into the patient or push tubes or cameras into the body. Unlike an MRI however, a CT can be done even if the patient has a pacemaker or other implanted devices.

Computer Tomography is similar to a regular x-ray. A regular x-ray, however, gives only a 2-dimensional picture of the bones and only shows organs as shadows. With CT, the x-ray rotates around the patient and reveals a 3-D "map" of the internal organs, bones, and vascular system. This gives your doctor a much better picture of what is inside your body and thus can result in a more accurate diagnosis.

Preparing for a CT scan differs depending on the exact scan your physician wishes to do. Remember to follow your doctor’s instructions before your exam. He may ask you to remove jewelry, wear a hospital robe, or even take laxatives or otherwise change your diet before the scan.

Some tests require that you receive a contrast medium before the exam. A contrast medium is a liquid that will help your doctor see blood vessels and other structures inside your body. The contrast medium may need to be swallowed, administered intravenously or administered in an enema depending on the type of test.

Computerized Tomography at Lompoc Valley Medical Center

Lompoc Valley Medical Center offers a multi-channel helical (or spiral) scanner to facilitate bone mineral analysis as well as the common CT procedures.

Some of the things a CT can be used for include:

  • Diagnose muscle and bone disorders, such as osteoporosis
  • Pinpoint the location of a tumor, infection or blood clot
  • Guide procedures such as surgery, biopsy and radiation therapy
  • Detect and monitor diseases such as cancer or heart disease, and monitor the progression of a disease
  • Detect internal injuries and internal bleeding

CT Drawbacks

  • If you're pregnant, your doctor may recommend another type of exam to reduce the possible risk of exposing your fetus to radiation.
  • If you have asthma or allergies and your CT scan requires contrast medium, there's a slight risk of allergic reaction to the contrast medium.
  • If you have diabetes, asthma, heart disease, kidney problems or thyroid conditions, these also may increase your risk of an allergic reaction to contrast medium.

More Information

For those interested, there is much information available on the web for Computerized Tomography