CT Scan of the Head

(Head CT)

Definition

A CT scan uses x-rays and special computers to make pictures of the inside of the body. In this case, the images are of the head.
CT Scan of the Head
Breast self-exam, step 5
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Test

A CT scan is done to study your skull, brain, jaw, sinuses, and facial bones. It will look for signs of injuries, tumors, infections, or other diseases.A head CT may be advised if you have any of the following symptoms:
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Head injury or injury to the face or eyes
  • Lightheadedness or problems with balance
  • Confusion
  • Behavior or personality change
  • Chronic nasal congestion
  • Swelling in the face, head, or neck
  • Double vision

Possible Complications

A chemical called contrast may be used to help improve the pictures. Some people can have an allergic reaction or develop kidney problems with contrast material. However, these reactions are rare. Your doctor will review a list of possible complications of a CT scan with contrast. A CT scan does use radiation. You and your doctor will weigh the harms and benefits of this test. A CT scan may not be advised if you are pregnant.Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the test.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

Your doctor may ask you to:
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything for 4 hours before the test if contrast will be used.
  • Remove any metal objects, such as jewelry, hearing aids, or dentures.

Description of the Test

If contrast is needed, it will be injected into a vein.You will be positioned on a special moving table. The table will move slowly through the CT scanner. You will need to stay still during the entire test. The technician may need to use a device to keep your head still. As the scanner takes pictures, you will hear humming and clicking. You will be able to talk to the technician through an intercom.

After Test

If you had contrast, you may be asked to drink extra fluid. This will flush the contrast from your body.

How Long Will It Take?

About 10 minutes

Will It Hurt?

You may feel flushed if you are given contrast. You may also notice a salty or metallic taste in your mouth and feel nauseated.

Results

The CT images will be sent to a radiologist for analysis. Your doctor will receive the results and discuss them with you.

Advertisement

Call Your Doctor

If you were given contrast, call your doctor if any of the following occurs after the test:
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Swollen, itchy eyes
  • Tightness of throat
  • Difficulty breathing
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org

Radiological Society of North America
http://www.radiologyinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of Radiologists
http://www.car.ca

Canadian Radiation Protection Association
http://www.crpa-acrp.org

References

Brenner DJ. Should we be concerned about the rapid increase in CT usage? Rev Environ Health. 2010;25(1):63-68.

Computed tomography (CT)—Head. Radiology Info.org—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=headct. Updated February 12, 2014. Accessed January 26, 2015.

Positron emission tomography—computed tomograpy (PET/CT). Radiology Info.org—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=PET. Updated March 28, 2013. Accessed January 26, 2015.

Revision Information

Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Meet Our Health Experts

Our Lady of Weight Loss

Janice Taylor
New! Simple Weight Loss 10 Ways to Curb Conquer and Control Nighttime Eating

Mindfulness Matters

Arnie Kozak
New! Mindful in Relationship The Biggest Spiritual Challenge We Face


Advertisement

Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »

 

Advertisement

DiggDeliciousNewsvineRedditStumbleTechnoratiFacebook