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What is a CT scan?

A computerized tomography (CT) scan is a test that uses X-rays to create detailed pictures of internal structures in your body.

What are some common reasons why a CT scan may be performed?
A CT scan can be used to study any organ in your body. The types of CT scans include:

  • Abdomen
    • Detects conditions such as cysts, abscesses, tumors, enlarged lymph nodes, or appendicitis.
  • Adrenal glands
    • Detects tumors or enlarged adrenal glands.
  • Arm or leg
    • Examines arms and legs for problems in your shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.
  • Brain
    • Examines the brain to detect abnormalities such as brain tumors, blood clots, strokes, or damage due to head injury
  • Chest
    • Examines lungs, heart, esophagus, aorta, or tissues in the center of your chest.
  • Gallbladder and bile ducts
    • Detects conditions such as blockages of your bile ducts.
  • Liver
    • Detects conditions such as liver tumors and liver diseases and can help determine the cause of jaundice.
  • Pelvis
    • Detects problems in the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes in women and the prostate gland and seminal vesicles in men.
  • Pancreas
    • Detects pancreatic tumors or pancreatitis.
  • Spleen
    • Examines the size of your spleen or the existence of trauma to your spleen.
  • Urinary tract
    • Detects conditions such as kidney stones, bladder stones, and any blockages or infections in the urinary tract.

A CT angiogram (CTA) is a special type of CT scan that details your coronary arteries to see if they have become narrow from coronary artery disease. A special dye will be injected into one of your veins to help the technologist see your arteries more clearly.

A CT scan may also be performed to help guide a needle during a biopsy, dictate proper placement of a needle during a biopsy, or help determine how much a cancer has spread.

How is a CT scan performed?
You will be instructed about what to wear to your appointment, what to eat before the test, how the test will be performed, and how the test will feel.

You will lie very still on a table as the CT scanner, a large, donut-shaped machine, sends X-ray pulses through your body. Iodine dye may be used to make organs and tissues easier to see. Iodine dye may be injected into your arm, or you may ingest iodine dye orally. You doctor may have the iodine dye for you to ingest, or you may need to stop by Sacred Heart Hospital or Sacred Heart Imaging Northampton to pick it up.

How do I schedule a CT scan?
CT scans can be performed at Sacred Heart Hospital and Sacred Heart Imaging Northampton, an affiliate of Sacred Heart HealthCare System.

To schedule a CT scan at Sacred Heart Hospital, please call One Call Scheduling at 610-776-5180.

To schedule a CT scan at Sacred Heart Imaging Northampton, please call 610-262-6622.

Same day appointments are often available.

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