Hello! I’m Dr. Geoffrey Rubin, a radiologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. In this short video, I’ll describe computed tomography – also called CT or CAT scanning – of the head.
This medical imaging exam has many uses. It is used to help assess head injuries, severe headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms of aneurysm, bleeding, stroke and brain tumors. It also helps your doctor to evaluate your face, sinuses, and skull. Finally, it might be used to plan radiation therapy for brain cancer.
A head CT provides more detailed information than a standard x-ray.
If you are scheduled for a head CT, there are several things you can do to prepare.
First, tell your doctor about any recent illnesses, medical conditions and medications you are taking, and whether you have any allergies. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
On the day of your exam, you may be asked not to drink or eat anything for a few hours beforehand. Also, it’s best to wear loose, comfortable clothing and leave jewelry at home. You will be asked to remove dentures if you wear them, as these may affect the CT images.
You may have some concerns about CT scans. CT scans involve a small level of radiation. However, it’s important to consider the likelihood of benefit to your health. While there’s a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis from CT far outweighs the risk. Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or if there is a possibility that you are pregnant.
Remember, a CT scan is noninvasive, fast and easy, and provides a highly accurate and detailed set of images that can lead to a faster and more accurate diagnosis and better treatment for you.
To learn more about head CT, visit RadiologyInfo.org.