CT scan for Cancer Detection
Imaging tests, such as computerized tomography (CT) urogram or retrograde pyelogram, allow Dr. Nimeh to examine the structures of your urinary tract.
During a CT urogram, a contrast dye injected into a vein in your hand eventually flows into your kidneys, ureters and bladder. X-ray images taken during the test provide a detailed view of your urinary tract and help Dr. Nimeh identify any areas that might be cancer.
Retrograde pyelogram is an X-ray exam used to get a detailed look at the upper urinary tract. During this test, Dr Nimeh threads a thin tube (catheter) through your urethra and into your bladder to inject contrast dye into your ureters. The dye then flows into your kidneys while X-ray images are captured.
CT scan slices
A computerized tomography (CT) scan combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images, or slices, of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues inside your body. CT scan images provide more detailed information than plain X-rays do.
A CT scan has many uses, but is particularly well-suited to quickly examine people who may have internal injuries from car accidents or other types of trauma. A CT scan can be used to visualize nearly all parts of the body and is used to diagnose disease or injury as well as to plan medical, surgical or radiation treatment.
Why it's done
Dr. Tony Nimeh may recommend a CT scan to help:
- Diagnose muscle and bone disorders, such as bone tumors and fractures
- Pinpoint the location of a tumor, infection or blood clot
- Guide procedures such as surgery, biopsy and radiation therapy
- Detect and monitor diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung nodules and liver masses
- Monitor the effectiveness of certain treatments, such as cancer treatment
- Detect internal injuries and internal bleeding
During a CT scan, you're briefly exposed to ionizing radiation. The amount of radiation is greater than you would get during a plain X-ray because the CT scan gathers more detailed information. CT scans have not been shown to cause long-term harm, although there may be a very small potential to increase your risk of cancer.
CT scans have many benefits that outweigh this small potential risk. Dr. Tony Nimeh uses the lowest dose of radiation possible to obtain the needed medical information. Also, newer, faster machines and techniques require less radiation than was previously used. Talk with Dr. Nimeh about the benefits and risks of your CT scan.
Harm to unborn babies
Tell Dr. Nimeh if you're pregnant. Although the radiation from a CT scan is unlikely to injure your baby, Dr. Nimeh may recommend another type of exam, such as ultrasound or MRI, to avoid exposing your baby to radiation.
Reactions to contrast material
In certain cases, Dr. Tony Nimeh may recommend you receive a special dye called a contrast material through a vein in your arm before your CT scan. Although rare, the contrast material can cause medical problems or allergic reactions.
Most reactions are mild and result in a rash or itchiness. In rare instances, an allergic reaction can be serious, even life-threatening. Tell Dr. Nimeh if you've ever had a reaction to contrast material.
How you prepare
Depending on which part of your body is being scanned, you may be asked to:
- Take off some or all of your clothing and wear a hospital gown
- Remove metal objects, such as a belt, jewelry, dentures and eyeglasses, which might interfere with image results
- Refrain from eating or drinking for a few hours before your scan
A special dye called a contrast material is needed for some CT scans, to help highlight the areas of your body being examined. The contrast material blocks X-rays and appears white on images, which can help emphasize blood vessels, intestines or other structures.
For most cases, Dr. Nimeh will order a CT with contrast to be given by IV. This is because the way cancer tissue is differentiated from other normal tissue in the body is by the way the cancer handles blood flow, which is imaged through contrast (molecules that can be seen on imaging) and where it flows with the blood. Contrast agents can be injected through a vein in your arm to help your gallbladder, urinary tract, liver or blood vessels stand out on the images. You may experience a feeling of warmth during the injection or a metallic taste in your mouth.
What you can expect
You can have a CT scan done in a hospital or an outpatient facility. CT scans are painless and, with newer machines, take only a few minutes. The whole procedure typically takes about 30 minutes.
During the CT scan
CT scanners are shaped like a large doughnut standing on its side. You lie on a narrow, motorized table that slides through the opening into a tunnel. Straps and pillows may be used to help you stay in position. During a head scan, the table may be fitted with a special cradle that holds your head still.
While the table moves you into the scanner, detectors and the X-ray tube rotate around you. Each rotation yields several images of thin slices of your body. You may hear buzzing, clicking and whirring noises.
A technologist in a separate room can see and hear you. You will be able to communicate with the technologist via intercom. The technologist may ask you to hold your breath at certain points to avoid blurring the images.
After the CT scan
After the exam you can return to your normal routine. If you were given a contrast material, you may receive special instructions. In some cases, you may be asked to wait for a short time before leaving to ensure that you feel well after the exam. After the scan, you'll likely be told to drink lots of fluids to help your kidneys remove the contrast material from your body.
CT images are stored as electronic data files and are usually reviewed on a computer screen. A radiologist interprets these images and sends a report to Dr. Nimeh to be reviewed with you in the office.