CT scan: head

CT scan: head

CT scan: head

Alternative Names: Brain scan, CT scan of the skull

A CT (Computerised Tomography) head, or brain, scan is done to investigate structural problems in the skull, brain, and other structures (e.g. sinuses) — problems such as head injuries, headaches, nerve symptoms, and seizures or epilepsy. A CT head scan helps doctors to diagnose e.g. stroke, brain tumours, bleeding around the brain (intracerebral haemorrhage), swelling of the brain (cerebral oedema), a brain abscess, or sinusitis. A CT scanner is a tunnel-like machine in which you lie while it takes X-rays that are turned into detailed images by a computer. A special dye, which contains iodine, may be injected into a vein in your arm to enhance the images; some people are allergic to this dye.

What is it?
Computerised Tomography (CT) is an imaging technique that uses X-ray beams, which are analysed by a computer to produce detailed images.

A CT scan of the head scans the skull, brain, and other structures. It is done in a radiology facility and takes less than an hour to perform.

Why is it done?
A brain scan/CT scan is done to look for any structural problems in the skull, brain and other nearby structures (e.g. sinuses). There are many indications for doing a brain scan but some of the common ones include:

Investigating problems such as:

  • Head injury
  • Headache
  • Weakness or other neurological (nerve) symptoms
  • Seizures and epilepsy

Considering diagnoses such as:

  • Stroke
  • Brain tumours
  • Intracerebral haemorrhage (bleeding within or around the brain)
  • Cerebral oedema (swelling of the brain)
  • Brain abscess
  • Sinusitis and other sinus problems

What happens?

Before – how to prepare
You will need to sign a consent form but no other special preparations are needed. Any jewellery, or other metal objects, should be removed.

During – how the test is done
You will need to lie within the CT scanner – you lie on a couch with the tunnel-like scanner around you. It is essential that you lie very still while the machine takes a sequence of images, moving fractionally each time. The machine may be quite noisy, and some people feel a little claustrophobic inside the “tunnel” but there is no pain or discomfort involved at all.

A special dye, called contrast media, may be injected into a vein in your arm, to enhance the images.

After the test
The initial results should be available within an hour or so but detailed analysis and interpretation of the images may take longer.

Risks and Compilations
The radiation involved in taking X-rays may, potentially, be harmful, but most experts do not consider this to be a significant problem.

Some people are allergic to the dye/contrast media, which usually contains iodine.

Short Description
A CT (Computerised Tomography) head, or brain, scan is done to investigate structural problems in the skull, brain, and other structures (e.g. sinuses) — problems such as head injuries, headaches, nerve symptoms, and seizures or epilepsy.

Keywords
Brain scan, CT scan of the skull, CAT scan, cat scan



For latest news & specials