What is an abdominal CT scan?
A CT scan, also known as Computed tomography scan combines X-rays and computer technology to provide detailed images of the body. The results of the scan yield detailed images of the bones, muscles, fat, organs and blood vessels with enhanced clarity. This makes it different from a standard X-ray image where details of internal organs are not visible. The multiple images can also be combined to develop a 3D image of a particular area. This method is very effective to study the internal abdominal organs for particular diseases or injuries.
In some cases, the process is also called computerized axial tomography or a CAT scan. Modern machines take helical images of a body area to produce fast and more detailed images in a continuous pattern.
In many cases, the patient is asked to drink a contrast dye that helps to identify subtle structures like small nodes and tumors with better clarity. Apart from detecting cancers, the process is also used to diagnose various other diseases and is a lifesaving tool for doctors. Other than the abdominal area, a CT scan is also a safe and non-invasive method to evaluate sections in the brain, neck, spine, and chest.
Why do I need to undergo an abdominal CT scan?
The CT scan is an effective tool for doctors to diagnose various internal issues in a better manner. The scan can be ordered for a variety of reasons.
– To detect tumors and understand how it is affecting the surrounding tissue.
– To diagnose the presence of cancer and its stage of development.
– To study ailments like cancer, emphysema, or liver masses in the abdominal area.
– To detect any internal injuries, organ damage or swelling caused by an accident.
– To detect lacerations of the spleen, kidneys, or liver.
– For investigating kidney or bladder stones and appendicitis.
– To detect the cause of blood in the urine.
– For investigating any abdominal pain.
– It provides data on blood flow and other vascular conditions and also helps to detect any abnormal tissue.
– To see whether a treatment like chemotherapy or radiation therapy is working effectively by comparing CT scans.
– Planning for certain treatments including surgeries and biopsies.
How is the abdominal CT scan performed?
The scan is generally done in a hospital or radiology clinic. The CT scanner’s X-ray detector picks up images from the patient and transmits them to the computer for a final result. The scanning machine is shaped like a doughnut with a channel in the middle and the computer processing unit is located in a separate room. In general, the following steps are followed during an abdominal CT scan.
– You will have to change into a hospital gown and remove any metal accessories you might be wearing like jewelry and watches.
– In some cases, the patient may need to drink a contrast dye which can also be injected in the system or given by enema. The two most common types of dyes used for the formation of better images contain iodine or barium. The dye is given around an hour before the actual test.
– You will have to lie on your back on a table that will slide inside the CT scanner. In some cases, you might be asked to lie sideways or face-down.
– The X-rays will rotate around the body taking images so it is necessary to lie very still for better image clarity. In some cases, you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds.
-The table may move in certain stages to facilitate the imaging process. There will be some humming and buzzing sounds originating from the machine.
– No one else will be present in the room other than the patient. The technician will be able to hear and communicate with you throughout the procedure.
– Depending on the area being scanned, the procedure can take anywhere between a few minutes to half an hour. Once the procedure is over, you can move out of the hospital without any restrictions. No residual radiation remains in the body after the scan is complete.
What is the price for an abdominal CT scan in India?
The cost of a CT scan in India can vary between Rs 2000 to 8500 depending on the scanning requirement and the quality of facilities in the center.
When will I get the test results?
The results of the scan are inspected by a technician and send to a doctor. The final report is generally delivered within 2 to 3 days.
What is the normal range for an abdominal CT scan?
The scan produces images that are analyzed by a radiologist to detect abnormalities in the internal organs. The doctor can discuss the issues with you once the images provide the relevant data regarding an ailment.
What do the results mean?
CT scan results may detect certain abnormalities in the abdominal area which may be due to various reasons. Some of the reasons are listed below.
– A type of cancer – may be colon cancer, lymphoma, melanoma, pancreatic cancer or kidney cancer.
– Various problems related to the gallbladder, pancreas and kidney.
– Ailments related to kidney stones or blockages, bowel wall thickening, Crohn’s disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, renal artery stenosis, etc.
– In some cases, an abnormality may need further investigation and the doctor may suggest follow-up tests. After a comprehensive diagnosis, the doctor will discuss the forward path about the treatment with you.
Do I need to fast for an abdominal CT scan?
You might be instructed to abstain from food and drinks for a few hours before the CT scan. The details will be provided to you by the testing center.
What else do I need to know before I appear for an abdominal CT scan?
The scanning process does not cause any pain even though lying still from a time period may be uncomfortable for some. Individuals who are claustrophobic may have some problems in handling the test.
This can be discussed with the technician before the procedure is started. In some rare situations, a patient may be sedated before the scan. In such cases, they will be sent home only after they are awake and fully alert. A CT scan comes with some risks and side effects which are mentioned below.
– Some people are allergic to the contrasting dye and it may cause a reaction in the body. You need to inform your doctor about any allergies that you may have, especially from seafood and iodine.
– The effects can range from nausea, vomiting, and sneezing to the development of rashes. Serious side effects of dyes are extremely rare. In case you face any issues regarding the difficulty in breathing during the test, inform the operator immediately.
– If you have kidney-related ailments, you may need to consume extra fluids to flush the dye out of your system.
– A CT scan will expose you to more radiation than a normal X-ray and multiple CT scans through the years can increase a person’s chance of getting cancer or thyroid-related issues.
– The scan is suggested only when there is a clear medical reason for it. Most modern scanning machines are improving their image quality while reducing the levels of radiation.
– It has been estimated that the risk of a person developing cancer from a CT procedure is about 1 in 2,000. On the other hand, the general risk of cancer among the U.S. population is about 1 in 5.
Can pregnant women undergo an abdominal CT scan?
Due to the exposure to radiation, pregnant women are not advised to appear for a CT scan. Doctors generally recommend the process only when the benefits outweigh the risks. In case lactating or breastfeeding mothers are injected with a contrast dye, they should avoid breastfeeding for 24 to 48 hours. The elements in the dye can enter the child’s body through breast milk if precaution is not taken.
Is an abdominal CT scan possible for new-born babies?
New born babies are more sensitive to radiation but still can undergo a CT scan in case the doctor recommends it. The parents need to discuss the issue with the doctor to make sure that the overall benefits will outweigh the minor long-term risks.
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