Seeing inside the body with computed tomography

CT imaging provides a unique demonstration of soft tissue, bone and blood vessels. It is one of the best tools for studying the lungs and abdomen, and for quickly assessing injuries in trauma patients. It is also used in cancer diagnosis, in particular lung, liver and pancreatic cancers. CT scans are also often used to diagnose acute stroke, cardiovascular diseases, kidney stones and appendicitis.

At Scripps, we offer a variety of diagnostic CAT scan procedures including:

  • High-resolution chest CT to detect abnormalities or tumors of the lungs, heart, ribs and spine
  • Abdominal CT to scan the organs in the belly and look for conditions such as tumors, infections, kidney stones or an appendicitis
  • Cranial CT to look at the skull, brain and eye sockets for signs of stroke, trauma or tumors
  • Pelvic CT to examine organs in the pelvis including the bones, bladder, uterus and prostate
  • Spine CT scans look for trauma or other problems of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar sections of the spine

CT angiography (CTA)

Computed tomography can be used to examine the blood vessels around the heart through CT angiography. In traditional angiography, a catheter is threaded through the body to the area being studied. This catheter is used to inject a dye that highlights the blood vessels and makes them easier to see on the scanned images.

When a CT angiography (CTA) is performed, the dye is placed intravenously. The contrast dye is then used by the CT scanner to create the images of blood vessels. Because there is no need to thread the catheter through the body, a CTA is less time consuming and causes less discomfort than traditional angiography.

CT angiogram scanning is painless and noninvasive. The scan usually takes between 10 to 25 minutes. You may be asked to arrive at your appointment up to 90 minutes early in order to prepare you for your scan, especially if contrast dye is going to be administered.