CT Scan

What is a CT scan?

A CT scan utilises X-rays to produce highly detailed images of the body allowing the Radiologist, a doctor trained in interpreting scans to accurately identify abnormalities within the organs of the body.

Scans frequently take a few seconds, although you will usually be in the scanner room for a few minutes whilst the radiography team helps to plan your scan.

CT scans are generally very well tolerated, without discomfort or claustrophobia. Most scans will require an intravenous cannula to allow contrast dye to be injected (to enhance the quality and accuracy of your scan).

Types of CT scan

Body CT

Body CT examines the chest, abdomen and pelvis and will frequently be used to investigate new symptoms or for surveillance of disease following treatment.

CT enterography

CT enterography is a technique used to investigate the small bowel (3 to 4 metres long and located between stomach and large bowel). CT enterography involves patients drinking quite a large volume of water (1-2 litres) mixed with a liquid to help the water stay in the bowel.This technique also examines other organs in the abdomen and pelvis providing a comprehensive imaging review to help explain patients' symptoms or assess the severity and extent of known small bowel disorders.

Are there any risks associated with X radiation?

Whilst CT scanning uses X-rays, the radiation dose used for medical imaging tend to be very low and equivalent to 1 to 3 years of average background radiation found in the UK (from naturally occurring radiation in the rock and earth). Whilst there is theoretical harm from radiation by slightly increasing the risk of developing cancer (about 1 in 10,000 people), there is a lack of evidence showing harm to adults patients undergoing CT for diagnostic imaging. Indeed, some physicists advocate small radiation doses might confer benefit, for example airline pilots are exposed to increased radiation dose (cosmic radiation) and have lower rates of cancer compared to the general population. Overall, London Radiology has a judicious approach to using radiation by keeping dose as low as reasonably achievable. In practical terms this means avoiding use of X-radiation in children and young adults where possible and limiting dose for our adult clients to optimise the balance between benefit and risk.