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CT of the Spine

(Cervical, Thoracic & Lumbar)

A CT of the Spine is a noninvasive medical scan that uses special equipment to obtain multiple images of the spinal column (cervical, thoracic & lumbar), some of which are three dimensional. These CT images are far more detailed than those obtained from conventional x-rays. The scan also is used as a diagnostic tool because of its ability to display different types of tissue in the same region, including bone, muscle, soft tissue, and blood vessels.

CT scanning of the Spine may be recommended for a variety of reasons. It can help to:

  • Detect spinal damage in patients who have been injured
  • Detect tumors in the vertebral column
  • Provide important information to patients with narrowing of the spinal canal, vertebral fracture, infection, and arthritis
  • Measure bone density to predict the likelihood of vertebral fractures

A CT of the Spine requires you to lie flat on your back. If contrast material is used, it will be swallowed, injected through an intravenous line (IV) or administered by enema, depending on the type of examination. A rotating device spins around your body creating a beam of x-rays. A detector takes snapshots of the beam after it passes through your body and a powerful computer program then processes the images and displays them in different ways for examination. The technician will communicate with you throughout the procedure, but will need to leave the room briefly to run the computer. A radiologist then reviews the images to look at the area in question. The scan will take about 5-10 minutes and the entire experience should last no more than 30 minutes.

For Physicians

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