A Computerised Tomography (CT) scan is a type of imaging examination using X-Rays and computers to create cross-sections or ‘slices’ of the inside of your body. The CT scanner takes a series of images from different angles that can be processed to identify the tiniest abnormalities in your bones, organs, and blood vessels.
CT scan at Ramsay Health Care
At Ramsay Health Care we offer excellent CT scanning facilities that are managed by highly experienced Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) registered radiographers.
We book convenient and rapid-access CT scan appointments for our patients. With variable NHS waiting times many patients choose a private CT scan with private medical insurance or self-pay options.
Our hospitals and mobile imaging fleet are fully-equipped with state-of-the-art mobile CT scanning equipment to produce the highest quality images with low doses and short scanning times.
Our specialist Consultant Radiologists read and interpret the images in order to diagnose, treat and monitor any diseases and injuries . If treatment is required following your diagnosis you can rest assured, we have onsite professionals and resources to support your ongoing healthcare needs.
Our primary focus is to keep our patients and staff safe in our hospitals and we have meticulous procedures in place to support this.
What is a CT scan?
CT is a specialised X-Ray examination that uses a scanner (a sophisticated X-Ray machine) to rotate around the patient to produce a cross-sectional (tomogram) image. A major advantage of CT is its ability to image soft tissue, air, fluid, bone and blood vessels all at the same time.
A CT scanner provides more in-depth images than conventional X-rays as it uses a computer to produce cross-sections and sometimes 3-D images of the body, whereas an X-ray takes pictures in one plane only.
What can CT scans detect?
CT scans can be performed on any part of your body. A CT scan is quick and painless and can detect many conditions including:
- bone, muscle, and joint problems – such as tumours and complex bone fractures
- cancer – also used to monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment
- heart disease – uses a specialised dye to view your heart and blood vessels for artery blockages, defects or injury of your heart, blood clots in your heart chambers and tumours in or on your heart
- excess fluids and infections
- lung nodules – an abnormal area on your lung that may be benign or cancerous.
CT scans are carried out in hospital by radiographers as an outpatient procedure.
What is the difference between a CT scan and an MRI?
The images of CT and MRI scans can look very similar. The key difference between a CT scan and an MRI scan is that a CT scan uses radiation (X-Rays) and MRI scans use a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of the body. This sometimes means that one may be safer than the other for some types of patient.
- Soft-tissue details in areas such as the brain, gallbladder, internal pelvic organs, and joints (such as knees and shoulders) can often be better evaluated with MRI
- A CT scanner can be faster and is quieter, when compared to the loud sounds of an MRI scanner
- A CT scanner is a doughnut-shaped structure which feels more open than an MRI scanner. A MRI scanner is a ‘tunnel’ open at both ends, which means that a CT scan can be more comfortable for claustrophobic patients
- CT scanners are less sensitive to patients moving during the scan, as each scan sequence is faster than an MRI sequence
Is a CT scan safe?
Like other X-Ray imaging examinations, CT scans will expose you to a small amount of ionising radiation. The amount of radiation you are exposed to during the scan will depend on the type of scan you are having and how much of your body is scanned.
Generally, the amount of radiation you are exposed to during a scan is the equivalent to between a few months and a few years of exposure to natural background radiation from the environment.
The Consultant who refers you for a CT scan will ensure that the benefits provided by the information in the examination outweighs any risks associated with the radiation dose.
A CT scan may not be suitable for everyone. If you are, or might be, pregnant please contact us on the number on your appointment letter so that we can discuss your options.
How long does a CT scan take?
The time it takes to do a CT scan depends on the type of scan required. Typically, a CT scan will take 15 to 30 minutes.
Do I need an injection or to drink oral contrast for a CT scan?
In some instances, a CT scan may use ‘contrast’ (a dye containing iodine), which is either drunk or injected to enhance the images and produce a clearer picture of the body.
If oral contrast is required, it will take 45 to 60 minutes for the contrast to move through your digestive tract before the CT scan
The Radiographer will explain if this is necessary for your examination.
What preparation do I need to do before the scan?
It is important to tell us before the scan if:
- You are, or may be, pregnant
- You are diabetic and taking Metformin
- You have any allergies or asthma
- You have problems with your kidneys or renal function
We will ensure that a CT scan is the most appropriate test for you and will ask you some basic questions when you book your appointment.
Depending on the type of CT scan you are having, you may need to stop eating or drinking for a specified amount of time before your scan. Your appointment letter will provide details of this if it is necessary.
If we are scanning your Abdomen or Pelvis, we might ask you to drink water or contrast before your scan. The Radiographer will provide you with this information when you arrive for your appointment. For these type of examinations, you may have to wait for up to an hour (whilst drinking) before you can be scanned.
Please let us know if you have any additional needs, so that we can ensure we provide you with the highest possible service and care.
What happens after the scan?
There are no restrictions on normal activity, you can eat and drink normally, drive and return to work immediately after the scan.
The images will be reported by a Consultant Radiologist and the results sent to the referring clinician (your doctor).
We are unable to discuss your results with you immediately after the examination, as your Doctor or Consultant will do this with you at your follow-up appointment.
If we’ve given you a contrast medium injection there is a very small risk of an allergic reaction so we’ll ask you to stay with us for half an hour after the scan.
What is the cost of a CT scan?
The cost of a CT scan will depend on how many body parts are to be scanned, whether contrast is required, and your Ramsay hospital of choice.
You will receive a formal quotation price following a referral from your GP or appropriate clinician. This formal quote for your CT scan will be valid for 60 days.
Ramsay is recognised by all major medical insurers. CT scans are covered by most medical insurance policies. We advise you to check with your insurance provider and obtain their written authorisation before having your CT scan.