Computerized tomography (CT scan) combines a series of X-ray views taken from many different angles and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images of the bones and soft tissues inside the body.
CT Scan Locations
To schedule an appointment or for more information, please call 315-624-4600.
CT scans are also provided at the St. Luke’s Campus by New Hartford Scanner. For more information, you may contact New Hartford Scanner by phone at 315-624-6254 or visit their website at newhartfordscanner.com.
More Information About Our CT Scan Services
The resulting images can be compared to looking down at single slices of bread from a loaf. The doctor will be able to look at each of these slices individually or perform additional visualization to view the patient’s body from different angles. In some cases, CT images can be combined to create three-dimensional images. CT scan images can provide much more information than traditional X-rays.
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 can be done in a hospital or an outpatient facility. CT scans are painless and typically take only a few minutes to complete.
CT scanners are shaped like a large doughnut standing on its side. The patient lies on a narrow table that slides into the "doughnut hole," which is called a gantry. Straps and pillows may help the patient stay in position. During a CT scan of the head, the table may be fitted with a special cradle that holds the head still. The table will move slowly through the gantry during the CT scan, as the gantry rotates in a circle around the patient. Each rotation yields several images of thin slices of the body. A technologist will be nearby in a separate room and will be able to communicate with the patient through an intercom. The technologist may ask the patient to hold their breath at certain points to avoid blurring the images.
A CT scan may be recommended 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
- Detect internal injuries and internal bleeding
A special dye called contrast material is needed for some CT scans to help highlight the areas of the body that are being examined. The contrast material blocks X-rays and appears white on images, which can help emphasize blood vessels, intestines or other structures.
Contrast material can enter the body in a two ways:
- Oral - If the esophagus or stomach is being scanned, the patient may need to swallow a liquid that contains contrast material.
- Injection - Contrast agents can be injected through a vein in the arm to help view the gallbladder, urinary tract, liver or blood vessels. A feeling of warmth during the injection or a metallic taste in the mouth may occur.
On rare occasions some patients have a reaction to the contrast material used in a CT scan. Although uncommon, the contrast material has the potential to cause medical problems or allergic reactions. Most reactions are mild and result in a rash or itchiness. In unusual instances, an allergic reaction can be serious and potentially life-threatening. The patient should notify the doctor if they have ever had a reaction to contrast material.
Radiation exposure during a CT scan poses some risk. During a CT scan, the patient is briefly exposed to much more radiation than during a traditional X-ray. Radiation from imaging tests has a small potential to increase the risk of cancer. CT scans have many benefits that typically outweigh the potential risks. Doctors use the lowest dose of radiation whenever possible. Newer machines and techniques may expose the patient to less radiation and patients should talk with their doctor about the benefits and risks of the CT scan.
The radiation can also potentially cause harm to unborn babies. Patients should notify their doctor if they are pregnant or believe they could be pregnant. Another type of exam may be recommended, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to avoid the risk of exposing the fetus to the radiation.
The preparation for a CT scan depends on which part of the body is being scanned. The patient may be asked to:
- Take off some or all of their clothing and wear a hospital gown
- Remove any metal objects, such as a belt or jewelry, which might interfere with image results
- Stop eating a few hours before the scan
If an infant or toddler is having a CT scan, the doctor may recommend a sedative to keep the child calm and still. Movement blurs the images and may lead to inaccurate results. Parents should ask the doctor how to best prepare their child.
After the exam, the patient may return to their normal routine. Those given a contrast material may receive special instructions. In some cases, the patient may be asked to wait for a short time before leaving to ensure that they feel well after the exam. After the scan, the patient should drink lots of fluids to help their kidneys remove the contrast material from their body.
The American College of Radiology (ACR) has designated Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center as Computed Tomography Centers of Excellence.