Often referred to as a CT or CAT scan, Computed Axial Tomography is an effective tool that can see into areas of the body that cannot be seen on regular x-ray examinations. Normal x-ray films are two dimensional; however, a CT scanner uses multi-row x-ray detectors to sense how radiation is absorbed by different tissues. The detector system sends the information to a computer which transforms the data into computer images of the body part scanned. This data can be manipulated and re-assembled to show structures in many different three dimensional (3D) planes. The most common CT procedures involve the brain, chest, abdomen, pelvis and spine.

Midland Memorial Hospital and the CT Department are continually working in partnership with the American College of Radiology, equipment vendors and research organizations to increase image quality and reduce radiation dose. The most recent step to help reduce dose was the capital purchase of an additional CT scanner at Midland Memorial Hospital’s Main Campus. A new CT Suite was built directly connected to the Emergency Department for this new scanner. This allows for faster times for diagnosis and treatment of critical patients.

The new GE Lightspeed VCT 64 slice scanner has ASiR (Adaptive Statistical Iterative Reconstruction), a new and advanced image reconstruction technique dramatically reducing radiation dose to patients up to 40% on some exams. This radiation reduction is especially beneficial to children, women of child-bearing age and patients who may need multiple imaging tests, such as cancer patients.

What can I expect during the exam?

The scanner is essentially a large circular machine with a table extending from the opening in the center. A highly trained CT technologist will assist you in getting situated and comfortable on the table, explain the procedure, and answer questions you may have. The technologist will monitor the exam from the adjacent control room and you will be able to communicate with them using a two-way intercom.

Depending on the exam performed, you will be given an intravenous injection to increase the contrast between different tissues. This is accomplished via a small catheter inserted into a vein. The catheter is removed immediately after the test is complete.

As the exam begins, the table will gently slide into the scanner's opening. Throughout the exam, you may hear the scanner rotating and feel the table move slightly to allow the scanner to capture the appropriate images. The technologist may ask you to hold your breath at certain points during examinations of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. This helps minimize any blurring of images that can be caused by breathing or other motion.

Will I be exposed to radiation?

While computed tomography is considered a safe examination, you will be exposed to a low dose of radiation. To assure you receive the lowest dose possible, all of the CT equipment at Midland Memorial Hospital is accredited by the American College of Radiology and your exam is completed by CT technologists who are registered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. The CT equipment also has dose limiting features to help reduce the amount of radiation received during the test. In the vast majority of cases, the diagnostic benefit of a CT scan greatly outweighs the risk of radiation.

How long will the exam take?

Depending on how many images are to be generated, a CT exam generally takes 30 to 45 minutes, although a very detailed study may take longer.

How do I prepare for the exam?

On the day of your appointment, we recommend that you avoid eating solid foods or drinking any liquids for four (4) hours prior to your exam. In some cases, you will also be asked to ingest a liquid contrast agent that will help enhance the images captured by the CT scanner. Should your exam require special preparations, your physician will provide you with that detail.

In order to obtain the highest quality images, you will be asked to remove any items that could obstruct the scan, such as jewelry. Most scans will require you to change into a hospital gown.

How will I know the results?

Following your exam, a radiologist specializing in CT will analyze and interpret the images from your exam and prepare a full report. This report will be sent directly to your physician who will share the results with you. To request a copy of the report, you may contact your physician's office or the Medical Records Department at 432.221-1600.

How do I schedule an appointment?

When your physician orders a CT for you, the physician's office will either contact the scheduling center or have you call and make the arrangements. If your physician would like for you to make the arrangements please contact us at 432.221.2300 and have your order available when you call. We will need to know the type of CT and the diagnosis your physician has indicated for the procedure.

What do I need to bring with me the day of the exam?

You will need to bring the order your physician gave you, a form of personal identification and any insurance or Medicare information. If you are taking any medications, please print and complete the second page of the Pocket Medication Card and bring the list with you. Please do not bring the medications. This will help expedite your visit and reduce the possibility of losing any of your medications.