Head Aches, Head Issues #3: CT Scan of the Head

Head Aches, Head Issues #3: CT Scan of the Head

So if you’ve had a good wallop to the head (or it just feels like you have) your doctor may direct you to a head CT.  


Like all CTs, a modifiable dose of radiation is used to image the body in “slices” which are then reconstructed into images. Use of radiation in pregnancy should be reserved for special cases, so let the technologists know if you are or could be pregnant.  


What To Expect  

Before a CT of the head, no special preparation is necessary. However, metal interferes with the images, so jewelry, hairpins and the like will need to be removed from the region of the head.   The procedure takes approximately ten minutes with only the head moving through the machine. Persons with claustrophobia typically do well with CT because the exam is fast and the machine itself is not too confining. Holding still is important – as with all images, motion causes blurring.  


CT of the head is often performed without contrast. For cases following trauma or in an evaluation for headache a non-contrast examination may be sufficient.  There are times when IV contrast injection is necessary. This additional part of the study can be very helpful to evaluate the blood vessels in the head and for assessment of the brain tissues and its enhancement. The iodinated contrast material will be given thru an IV which may cause a feeling of warmth. Images are then taken in the same manner as the initial non-contrast series.  


What Happens Next  

After your exam is completed, the images are studied by your radiologist for interpretation and reporting. The results are then shared with your referring doctor to integrate the new information gained from your head CT with clinical symptoms for a specific diagnosis.  


On Your Way!  

That’s it! A CT head is a quick, simple procedure which can be invaluable in looking at your brain and surrounding tissues. It can help get you on your way to being headache- and anxiety – free!    





Image credit: CT scan by NithinRao via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public Domain

Originally published 8/21/14 on diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com.