CT Scanning

CT Scanning
A State of the art CT scanner avaibale at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury.

CT Scan of Heart A CT of the Heart showing the major coronary arteries.

A CT renal angiogram
A CT renal angiogram

A CT reconstruction of a sinus tumour.A CT reconstruction of a sinus tumour.

What is it?

Computerised Tomography or CT scanning is a technique whereby X-rays are used to produce a cross-sectional image of various organs in the body. The Kent & Sussex Radiologists can provide private CT scans 7 days a week using state of the art CT scanners at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury. CT is also available at The Spire Hospital and occasionally at the Nuffield Hospital in Tunbridge Wells.
A CT scanner is ring shaped structure through which the patients body is passed whilst lying on a specialised table. Most scans are performed in less than 2 minutes though the whole procedure may take up to 20 minutes.

Who will perform my test?

Whilst having your scan you will be cared for by one of our team of highly trained Radiographers who have the technical skills to generate the study images. Your scan will then be interpreted by one of our Consultant Radiologists. This is normally done by whichever Consultant has the most expertise in relation to your condition. A report will then be sent to your Consultant, Surgeon or GP.

What is it used for?

Routine studies: CT is the main imaging modality for chest diseases and many abdominal conditions. It is commonly used for the diagnosis, staging and follow-up of many common cancers. It is an excellent tool for the assessment of bones and in particular small fractures. It is routinely used in the assessment of major blood vessels and the brain

Specialist Studies: CT can also be used to guide invasive procedures such as injecting drugs into specific locations or targeting a biopsy.

Recent advances in CT technology have allowed detailed imaging of the heart. This allows a non invasive assessment of the blood supply to the heart – the coronary arteries. It allows an assessment of ones risk of a heart attack by measuring calcium deposits in the blood vessels – a technique known as “coronary artery calcium scoring”. It also allows assessment of flow through the blood vessels using CT coronary angiography. In some situations this will be able to replace conventional catheter angiography of the heart. This has the advantage of being much more convenient since it is an out patient procedure, no hospital inpatient stay is required as it is completely non-invasive and no groin puncture is needed.

Advances in technology have allowed 3D assessment of the large bowel - so called Virtual Colonoscopy to look for colonic cancer as well as benign or pre malignant conditions such as polyps and diverticulosis. This can be done without the need for a more invasive endoscopic evaluation of the bowel. Click here for more information about this examination.

What do I need to do before my test?

Many CT scans (e.g., orthopaedic scans and brain scans) need no preparation. Sometimes an injection of a dye or contrast agent will be given which allows the blood vessels to be clearly seen. Anyone requiring this contrast agent will require a routine blood test to check their kidney function before hand.
Many examinations of the body (abdomen and pelvis) will require the patient to drink some oral contrast which allows the bowel to be more clearly seen. This may require patient attendance up to an hour before the scan. Women will often be asked to insert a tampon, which is used as a marker for the vagina.

Are there any risks?

CT scans do involve exposure to a small dose of x-ray radiation. However, this dose is small and the risk is therefore very small. Nevertheless, this examination is not undertaken lightly, and the Radiologists (and the referring clinician) would only perform this examination if it is felt that the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs any possible risk to the patient.