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CT of the Upper Extremities

(Shoulder, Wrist, Hand, & Finger)

A CT of the Upper Extremity is a noninvasive medical scan that uses special equipment to produce detailed pictures of the soft tissues, joints and bones of your shoulder, arm or hand. These CT images are far more detailed than those obtained from conventional x-rays. The scan is also 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 Upper Extremities may be recommended to evaluate:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Trauma
  • A known mass
  • A questionable fracture in any part of the upper extremity

A CT of the Upper Extremity will require you to be lying on your back on a padded table. If contrast material is used, it will be swallowed, injected through an intravenous line (IV), depending on the type of examination. The technologist will position you for your exam using pillows if necessary to make you comfortable. Positioning will vary depending on which part of your upper extremity is being scanned. During the scan the table will move into the rotating device, called the scanner. The first scan is done quickly to help determine the exam's starting point. The second phase of the scan has slower movement through the scanner. The 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. The scan will take about 30 minutes.

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