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Cranium Chest And Spine Computerized Axial Tomography


A computed axial tomography scan is also called a CT scan, or CAT scan. A CT scan uses x-rays to take pictures of bones, tissues, and blood vessels in your cranium (skull), chest, and spine.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • The contrast used in a CT scan may cause a rash, itching, or trouble breathing. If you have diabetes, your risk for kidney damage may increase if contrast dye is used. If you are pregnant, a CT scan may be harmful to your unborn baby. The radiation from a CT scan may damage your eyes, or increase your risk for cancer. A CT scan may not show some medical problems.
  • If you do not have a CT scan, your caregiver may not find or learn about your condition, and it may get worse. Without the scan, caregivers may not know if treatments are working.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • You will be asked to remove any objects that contain metal, such as jewelry, that may interfere with the pictures.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • You may need an injection of a contrast dye to help caregivers see blood vessels or tissue more clearly. Tell your caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. You may be given medicine to help prevent a reaction to the dye.

During your procedure:

  • Your caregiver will have you lie on a narrow table. Your head may be held still with straps on your forehead and chin. Caregivers may monitor your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure during the scan. If you are getting contrast dye, pictures may be taken before and after the dye is given. The CT scan table will be moved into the hole in the middle of the machine. You will hear clicking sounds as the machine moves and takes pictures.

  • You will need to lie still during the CT scan. Caregivers may tell you to hold your breath or avoid swallowing for a few seconds during the scan. When the scan is done, the table will move out of the machine.

After your procedure:

Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.