Computed Tomography (CT) | Imaging (Radiology) | Loyola Medicine

Computed Tomography (CT)

Advanced Cross-Sectional X-rays to Diagnose Disease or Injury

A CT scan (computed tomography) combines a series of cross-sectional X-rays that allows your doctor to visualize your internal organs, blood vessels, bones and soft tissue. CT scans enable doctors to diagnose disease or injury and create an effective treatment plan. 

If you have been in an accident or have experienced trauma, a CT scan can be used to determine the extent of bone and internal injuries. A CT scan might also be used to detect or monitor benign and malignant diseases, including heart disease. 

Loyola offers state-of-the-art imaging and diagnostic techniques in order to provide timely and accurate diagnosis for our patients. Our expert radiologists are recognized nationally and internationally for clinical excellence, innovative diagnostic and therapeutic methods and skilled use of the latest technology. Our experienced technologists provide a caring and compassionate environment where you will feel comfortable asking questions you have about your test or procedure. 

Why Choose Loyola for CT Scan?

As an academic medical center, we provide compassionate, comprehensive care to patients. We take a multidisciplinary approach to patient care and provides support services for patients and families. The Loyola healthcare team has one goal: restoring you to better health.

Images are available to your doctors instantly through an electronic medical record system, allowing them to deliver timely, effective care to our patients. At Loyola, we understand the importance of continuity of care and will provide seamless communication with your doctor through our secure medical information portal, LoyolaConnect. You can also access results from your tests and evaluations through myLoyola

What Diseases are Detected with a CT Scan?

Loyola’s imaging team knows that when you experience concerning symptoms, you want an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. Because CT uses radiation to produce diagnostic images, we will use the lowest dose possible. 

CT scans may be used to diagnose conditions and diseases that include:

  • Cancer — A CT scan can aid in the diagnosis and staging of cancer, as well as assess the response to treatment. 
  • Fractures — CT scans provide more detailed information than X-rays and may be used to diagnose subtle bone fractures, as well as pinpoint their locations.
  • Heart disease — Loyola offers CT angiography to detect narrowed arteries, as well as calcium-score screening to provide advanced risk assessments for coronary artery disease.
  • Infection  — CT technology is used to detect infections of many types, including those of the chest, abdomen and pelvis.
  • Liver diseases — A CT scan may be used to detect diseases of the liver, including lesions, obstructions, bleeding or infections. 
  • Lung disease — Your doctor may request a CT scan if you have a respiratory illness in order to assess the nature and extent of the disease. The early detection of malignant lung lesions allows for prompt treatment and better outcomes. 
  • Pain — An abdominal CT scan may aid your doctor in the diagnosis of abdominal or pelvic pain.
  • Sinus problems — Your otolaryngologist may recommend CT to evaluate the openings of your sinuses and detect possible masses. This can be used to diagnose disease or detect a narrowed or obstructed sinus drainage pathway. 
  • Trauma — If you’ve been in an accident or suffered other trauma, your doctor may use CT to determine if you have sustained internal bone or organ injuries or are experiencing internal bleeding. 
  • Tumors — In order to provide proper treatment, your doctor may use CT to determine the size and location of your tumor. CT may also help your physicians perform a biopsy of the tumor. 
  • Blood clot — Your doctor may use CT to determine if you have a blood clot and to pinpoint its exact location. This allows for precise treatment of blood vessel abnormalities. 

What to Expect with a CT Scan

At Loyola, the technologist will walk you through every part of the procedure, preparing you for each step before it occurs. We want you to feel comfortable during your test, so let your technologist know if you need anything to make you more comfortable. Your technologist is happy to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. 

You will be asked to remove all metal objects from your body, including jewelry, belts and glasses. Depending on the area of your body being tested, you will be instructed on which clothing to remove and given a hospital gown. You may be instructed not to eat or drink for a period of time prior to your exam. If your doctor has requested that contrast dye be used, it will be provided as a drink or through an IV or enema depending on the area being studied. This will highlight particular areas of the body and provide a clearer picture. 

You will lie on a table that slides in and out of the CT scanner. Within the scanner, detectors will rotate around you, producing images of your body. The scanner can be loud; you may hear clicking and a loud humming noise during your test. CT scans are painless, and you will be able to return to your normal activities immediately after your exam is complete. If your exam includes contrast dye, you will be instructed to drink plenty of water to flush it from your system.

With the latest technology, CT scans can be completed very quickly. From start to finish, your test will likely take less than 30 minutes. 

What are the Risks of CT Scan?

Your doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of any proposed diagnostic and treatment plan with you. Your healthcare team will ensure that your questions are answered and your concerns addressed prior to any treatment or testing.

A CT scan briefly exposes a patient to radiation, which is greater than that of an X-ray because a CT gathers more detailed information. CT scans are not shown to cause any short-term harm to patients, although there is a very small potential of increased risk for cancer. For this reason, your healthcare team will only recommend medically necessary testing and use the lowest dose of radiation possible for any test or procedure. In addition, Loyola uses the most advanced CT technology, which uses less radiation and takes less time than previous generations of CT scanners. 

If contrast dye is used during your CT scan, you may experience a rash or itchiness. The risk of a serious allergic reaction is very low. Tell your doctor if you have previously had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.