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Body Scan Information

Body Scan Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the two most common causes of death in the United States, accounting for almost 3 out of every 4 deaths.

The body scan, performed in a matter of minutes, screens for the presence of heart disease, certain cancers, as well as other abnormalities. The purpose of a body scan is to identify abnormalities and diseases at an early stage. Studies have shown that early detection of certain diseases may substantially increase the chance of recovery. Therefore, it is important to know that the body scan is a tool, if used properly, which may ultimately increase your chances of recovery through early detection.

The body scan is a simple and painless procedure. An individual merely lies on the scanner table and within minutes multiple images are taken of the torso. Typically a radiologist will then interpret the scan results to determine if there are any visible abnormalities.

The body scan includes a heart scan and lung scan and following areas of the abdomen: kidneys, spine, liver, pancreas, gall bladder, thoracic aorta, abdominal aorta, adrenal glands, lymph nodes, spleen, and certain pelvic organs.

The body scan may detect early or advanced heart disease, aneurisms of the aorta, vascular disease, lung tumors, kidney tumors and liver tumors, calcified kidney stones, calcified gallstones, and certain abnormalities in the abdominal and pelvic region.

Please note that at this time the FDA knows of no data demonstrating that whole-body CT screening, or a full body scan, is effective in detecting any particular disease early enough for the disease to be managed, treated, or cured and advantageously spare a person at least some of the detriment associated with serious illness or premature death.

The cost of a body scan ranges from $600 - $3000.

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What is CT Scanning of the Abdomen?

CT scanning, also known as CT scan, is a non-invasive, painless radiological test to evaluate many disorders of the abdomen and pelvis. CT scan uses special x-ray equipment to produce multiple cross sectional images of the abdomen and pelvis, which are then analyzed by a computer and converted into a 3 dimensional picture. The CT scan is many times more sensitive then the plain x-ray in imaging the internal organs of the abdomen. Today, CT is always the first test to detect most pathology of the abdomen and pelvis and is the gold standard for evaluating individuals who have suffered abdominal trauma.

Newer techniques, such as CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy) allows primary assessment of the distended colon to detect polyps, the precursor to colon cancer, and shows promise in screening for this disease.

What conditions of the abdomen can CT scan be used for?

CT scan can image the entire abdomen and pelvis and provided excellent pictures for the following conditions:

  • diagnosis of large bowel diseases: diverticulitis, cancers
  • diagnosis of small bowel disease: tumors obstruction
  • appendicitis
  • liver: masses, cysts, cancers, infection, inflammation
  • pancreas: inflammation, infection, tumors
  • kidney: masses, infection, cysts
  • retroperitoneum: masses, bleeding, infections
  • abdominal aortic aneurysms
  • trauma to abdomen and pelvis
  • stomach: masses, cancers
  • spleen- infection, masses
  • causes of bleeding in abdomen and pelvis
  • CT guided biopsies
  • Identify enlarged lymph nodes

What preparations are required for an abdominal CT scan?

Patients should refrain from eating for 2 to 3 hours prior to the procedure. Patients should wear loose-fitting clothing to the exam, or a gown may be provided.

All metal objects including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins can interfere with CT imaging and should be removed prior to the CT scan.

Anyone with allergies or asthma should inform the technologist of the condition before the day the scan is scheduled.  This is because Individuals with allergies or asthma may be required to take certain medications at least 24 hours prior to the scan.

For individuals who will receive an IV contrast, prior blood work is essential to ensure that the kidney function is normal. Individuals with kidney problems or diabetes may be admitted to the facility or hospital the night before and hydrated with fluids.

Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant. Pregnancy is usually a contraindication to a CT scan, unless the benefits of the test override the risks.

What does the CT scan equipment look like?

The CT scanner is a large machine with tunnel housing in the center. A moveable examination table slides into and out of this tunnel. In the center of the machine, the x-ray tube and electronic x-ray detectors are located opposite each other and rotate around the patient. The images generated are processed by a computer.

Recent advances in scanning technology allow new CT scanners to obtain multiple images in a single rotation. These scanners, called "multi slice CT" or "multidetector CT," allow thinner slices to be obtained in a shorter period of time, resulting in more detail and better resolution. These fast scanners are beneficial for critically ill patients and the elderly.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a CT scan of the head?

Advantages

  • CT scan is a painless, non-invasive procedure with good sensitivity to detect pathology of the abdomen
  • CT scan can diagnose many causes of abdominal pain with very high accuracy, enabling faster treatment and often eliminating the need for additional, more invasive diagnostic procedures
  • When pain is caused by infection and inflammation, the speed, ease and accuracy of a CT examination can reduce the risk of serious complications caused by a ruptured appendix or perforated diverticulum and subsequent spread of infection
  • CT scan is far superior to an MRI when evaluating masses located in the abdomen
  • CT scan can provide detailed images of the liver, spleen and kidney
  • CT is excellent for individuals involved in abdominal trauma
  • CT can rapidly identify the presence of an infection early in evolution
  • CT is excellent in making a diagnosis of perforated stomach or colon
  • CT scan is much cheaper than an MRI an equally as fast
  • The newer generation of CT scans can combine angiography and is excellent for identifying aortic aneurysms
  • The motion artifacts are less of a problem with a CT scan compared to an MRI
  • CT scan can be performed in patients with implanted medical devices
  • CT scan provides dynamic imaging and thus allows for needle biopsies to be performed simultaneously


Disadvantages

  • Unlike MRI, CT scan is associated with low-level radiation exposure
  • CT scan should never be done in a pregnant female because of the exposure of radiation is a risk to the fetus
  • The dye used in a CT is iodine based and may cause allergies or kidney complications in diabetic patients
  • Unlike adults, CT scan should not be repeated in children because of the repeat radiation exposure
  • CT is not very good at identifying pathology of the soft tissues
  • CT is not good at identifying areas of inflammation or infection of the brain compared to MRI

What are the limitations of CT Scanning of the Head?

An obese patient may not be able to fit in the machine.

For those who have partial renal failure, injection of contrast may not be possible because of the risk of inducing complete renal failure.

CT scanning is not the primary method of examining the inside or lumen of the hollow organs, such as the stomach and bowel, with the exception of virtual colonoscopy, which can be used to evaluate the lumen of the large bowel.

CT Scanning of the abdomen may not be as sensitive in identifying gallstones as ultrasound of the abdomen.

For some conditions, including but not limited to some liver, adrenal and pancreatic abnormalities, the evaluation and diagnosis with MRI may be preferable over CT scanning.

How is the CT scan performed?

You will be asked to lie down on a flat, but mobile table. An IV is usually placed in patients when contrast material is used in their scans. Next, the table moves into the tunnel where the actual imaging is done. During the procedure, you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to prevent any motion during some of the images. Unfortunately, no one else is allowed in the CT scan room because of radiation exposure but you will be watched through a window by the technologist. The technologist will also speak to you via a microphone. Once the imaging has been completed, you can go home without any downtime neccessary. The imaging itself takes about 15-20 minutes.

How does one feel during the procedure?

CT scan is a painless procedure. Today’s fast speed scanners can complete the imaging in less than 5 to 10 minutes, thus reducing the time needed to lay flat and still.

The only discomfort of CT scanning is the lying down flat for a few minutes. This may be of no consequence to most individuals but can be discomforting to those with neck and back problems. In addition, the CT scanning machine does tend to cause a claustrophobic feeling because of the closed-off shape.

When contrast is used, the individual may feel warm all over the body during the injection. This is a transient, painless feeling. Others may complain of a metallic taste in the mouth. The rare individual may develop an allergy which may be associated with hives and pruritis (itching).

When the contrast material is swallowed, it does have an unpleasant taste but is tolerable. Some individuals notice a brief period of bloating after swallowing the dye, but this passes quickly.

When a child is having a CT scan, one of the parents or a nurse may be allowed into the room but is required to wear a lead apron to prevent radiation exposure.

After the CT scan, the patient can resume all normal activities. If contrast was administered, patients are encouraged to drink lots of fluids.

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

The Scans are always read by a radiologist. If prior arrangements have been made with the radiologist, then the results can be available 30 mins after the CT is done.  The results can be forwarded to the patient's primary care physician for further review.

What is the cost of a CT scan?

The average cost of a CT scan of the head is about $200-400.

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What is Total Body CT scan?

In the last few years, the availability of high speed CT scanners has allowed the radiologists to rapidly scan the body for the presence of any cancers. Because the images are obtained in a fast manner, the risk of exposure to radiation is minimal. The Total Body CT scan analyzes three major areas of the body: the lungs, the heart, and the abdomen/pelvis. The lung CT can detect early, potentially malignant nodules. In the heart, the scan can detect aortic aneurysms and calcium deposits within plaque in the coronary arteries. In the abdomen/pelvis area, the scan can identify masses in the liver, spleen, pancreas, retroperitoneum and pelvis. The belief is that if one can identify the cancers early, the earlier the treatment can be started and hence a better prognosis.

Who is a Candidate for Total body CT Scan?

There are no specific guidelines but individuals who have risk factors for cancer and heart disease include:

  • An individual with coronary artery disease
  • Individual with a family history of coronary disease
  • Individual with a history of aneurysms
  • Individuals with Marfan’s syndrome (prone to aortic aneurysms)
  • individuals who smoke
  • An individual or family history of abdominal aneurysm
  • Individuals who are diabetic, hypertensive and obese

What conditions can be evaluated by a Total body CT scan?

CT scan can image the entire body and provide excellent information regarding the following conditions:

  • diagnosis of large bowel diseases: diverticulitis, cancers
  • diagnosis of small bowel disease: tumors obstruction
  • appendicitis
  • liver: masses, cysts, cancers, infection, inflammation
  • pancreas: inflammation, infection, tumors
  • kidney: masses, infection, cysts
  • retroperitoneum: masses, bleeding, infections
  • abdominal aortic aneurysms
  • trauma to abdomen and pelvis
  • stomach: masses, cancers
  • spleen- infection, masses
  • causes of bleeding in abdomen and pelvis
  • CT guided biopsies
  • Identify enlarged lymph nodes
  • often the preferred method for diagnosing many lung cancers,
  • diagnoses of spinal problems and injuries to the hands, feet and other skeletal structures
  • detection, diagnosis and treatment of vascular diseases that can lead to stroke, kidney failure or even death
  • Physicians often use the CT examination to guide biopsies and other minimally invasive procedures
  • plan and prepare for surgery

What preparations are required for a Total Body CT scan?

Patients should not eat two to three hours prior to the scan. Patients should wear loose-fitting clothing on the day of their scan, or a gown may be provided at the facility. All metal objects including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins can interfere with CT imaging an should be removed prior to the CT scan. Patients with allergies or asthma should notify the technologist before the day of the scan, because they may need to take certain mediations 24 hours before their scan.  For individuals who will receive an IV contrast, prior blood work is essential to ensure that the kidney function is normal. Individuals with renal problems or diabetes may be admitted the night before and hydrated with fluids. Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Pregnancy is usually a contraindication to a CT scan, unless the benefits of the test override the risks.

What does the CT scan equipment look like?

The CT scanner is a large machine with tunnel housing in the center. A moveable examination table slides into and out of this tunnel. In the center of the machine, the x-ray tube and electronic x-ray detectors are located opposite each other, and rotate around the patient. The images generated are processed by a computer.

Recent advances in scanning technology allow new CT scanners to obtain multiple images in a single rotation. These scanners, called "multi slice CT" or "multidetector CT," allow thinner slices to be obtained in a shorter period of time, resulting in more detail and better resolution. These fast scanners are beneficial for critically ill patients and the elderly.

How is the CT scan performed?

You will be asked to lie down on a flat, but mobile table. An IV is usually placed in patients when contrast material is used in their scans. Next, the table moves into the tunnel where the actual imaging is done. During the procedure, you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to prevent any motion during some of the images. Unfortunately, no one else is allowed in the CT scan room because of radiation exposure but you will be watched through a window by the technologist. The technologist will also speak to you via a microphone. Once the imaging has been completed, you can go home without any downtime neccessary. The imaging itself takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

How does one feel during the procedure?

CT scan is a painless procedure. Today’s fast speed scanners can complete the imaging in less than 5 to 10 minutes, thus reducing the time needed to lay flat and still.

The only discomfort of CT scanning may be found in lying down flat for a few minutes. This may be of no consequence to most individuals but can be discomforting to those with neck and back problems. In addition, the CT scan does tend to cause a claustrophobic feeling because of the closed space.

When contrast is used, the individual may feel warm all over the body during the injection. This is a transient, painless feeling. Others may complain of a metallic taste in the mouth. The rare individual may develop an allergy which may be associated with hives and pruritis (itching).

When the contrast material is swallowed, it does have an unpleasant taste but is tolerable. Some individuals complain of bloating after swallowing the dye, but this side-effect rapidly subsides.

When a child is having a CT scan, one of the parents or a nurse may be allowed into the room but is required to wear a lead apron to prevent radiation exposure.

After the CT scan, one can resume all normal activities. If contrast was administered, one is encouraged to drink lots of fluids.

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

The Scans are always read by a radiologist. If prior arrangements have been made with the radiologist, then the results can be available 30 mins after the CT is done.  The results may also be forwarded to the patient's primary care physician for further review.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a total body CT scan?

Advantages

  • CT scan is a painless non invasive procedure with good sensitivity to detect pathology of the abdomen
  • CT scan can diagnose many causes of abdominal pain with very high accuracy, enabling faster treatment and often eliminating the need for additional, more invasive diagnostic procedures
  • When pain is caused by infection and inflammation, the speed, ease and accuracy of a CT examination can reduce the risk of serious complications caused by a ruptured appendix or perforated diverticulum and subsequent spread of infection
  • CT scan is far superior to an MRI when evaluating masses in abdomen
  • Ct scan can provide detailed images of the liver, spleen and kidney
  • CT is excellent for individuals involved in abdominal trauma
  • CT can rapidly identify the presence of an infection early in evolution
  • CT is excellent in making a diagnosis of perforated stomach or colon
  • CT scan is much cheaper than an MRI an equally as fast
  • The newer generation of CT scans can combine angiography and is excellent in identifying aortic aneurysms
  • The motion artifacts are less of a problem with a CT scan compared to an MRI
  • CT scan can be performed in patients with implanted medical devices
  • CT scan provides dynamic imaging and thus allows for needle biopsies to be performed simultaneously
  • CT is excellent for use in patients who present to the emergency room
  • CT can be performed if you have an implanted medical device of any kind, unlike MRI
  • CT imaging provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and needle aspirations of many areas of the body, particularly the lungs, abdomen, pelvis and bones


Disadvantages

  • Unlike MRI, CT scan is associated with low-levels of radiation exposure
  • CT scan should never be done in a pregnant female because of the exposure of radiation poses a risk to the fetus
  • The dye used in a CT is iodine based and can cause allergic reactions or renal problems in diabetic patients
  • Unlike adults, CT scan should not be repeated in children because of the radiation exposure
  • CT is not very good at identifying pathology of the soft tissues
  • CT is not good at identifying areas of inflammation or infection of the brain compared to MRI

What are the limitations of CT Scanning of the Body?

An obese patient may not be able to fit in the machine.

For those who have partial renal failure, injection of contrast may not be possible because of the risk of inducing complete renal failure.

CT scanning is not the primary method of examining the inside or lumen of the hollow organs, such as the stomach and bowel, with the exception of virtual colonoscopy, which can be used to evaluate the lumen of the large bowel.

CT Scanning of the abdomen may not be as sensitive in identifying gallstones as ultrasound of the abdomen.

For some conditions, including but not limited to some liver, adrenal and pancreatic abnormalities, the evaluation and diagnosis with MRI may be preferable over CT scanning.

 

By ScanDirectory.com Staff
Updated: July 19, 2007

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