CT (CAT) Scan

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Computed Tomography (CT) scan, also sometimes called a CAT scan, is a very detailed x-ray that takes pictures of cross-sections of your body, called slices. A computer takes the slices and creates detailed 3-D images.  

Advanced CT Scan Technology at Fletcher Allen 

The more slices a CT scanner can take, the greater the chance of finding an abnormality. At Fletcher Allen, our CT scanners range from 16-slice to 256-slice configurations. That means better picture quality for our radiologists, and expert diagnosis for you. 

  • Our Philips Brilliance 256-slice scanner can take comprehensive pictures of organs in seconds. Other capabilities include: 
  • Cardiac CT angiography (including cardiac function and coronary angiography) 
  • High resolution chest CT scan
  • 3D reconstruction for all exams (especially helpful for surgical planning)
  • Faster and more accurate examination for pulmonary embolism, thoracic aneurysm and abdominal aneurysm.
  • Virtual colonoscopy capability for certain diagnostic studies 

The technologists who operate these CT scanners have additional training and certification in CT.

Cardiac CT Scan for Heart & Vascular Care

You physician may use the sophisticated X-ray technology of CT scans to obtain clear and detailed 3-D images of your heart and blood vessels. A CT scan of the heart can provide detailed images of: 

  • Heart muscle 
  • Heart (coronary) arteries 
  • Lungs 
  • The aorta 
  • Pulmonary veins 
  • The sac surrounding the heart (called the pericardium) 

Fletcher Allen also uses Ultrafast CT scanning, a new technology that provides images of the beating heart and reveals calcium deposits in the coronary arteries. Your physician may use Ultrafast CT scanning to determine the amount of plaque present within the coronary arteries, and to predict the risk of future coronary artery disease or heart attack. 

What to Expect During a CT Scan

CT scans can take place in the hospital Imaging Department or in some outpatient centers, including your physician’s office. They usually last about 30 minutes. 

During a CT scan: 

  • You will be asked to remove any metal objects such as jewelry, dentures and hearing aids from your body. 
  • You may be asked to wear a hospital gown.
  • You may need an intravenous line (IV) if a contrast dye will be injected into your body to improve picture quality. 
  • You will lie on a moveable table that slides into the CT machine. At first, the table will move quickly through the scanner to find the right starting position.
  • An X-ray tube (called the X-ray sensing unit) rotates within the CT machine and around your body. The table itself slowly moves you forward as the scanner takes pictures. 
  • Finally, a computer analyzes and combines these X-rays to create 3-D images with precise detail.

Preparing for a CT scan

Most CT scans don’t require special preparation, but some do, depending on the part of the body that is being scanned. Be sure to follow any special instructions your physician gives you before your exam. You may be asked not to eat or drink before the test.  

Find a Fletcher Allen radiologist.