What is a CT scan?
Computerised tomography, CT or CAT scans use a series of X-rays to build up images of the insides of a person's body.
The radiographer will operate the scanner from a separate control room and will talk to you through an intercom. The scan will not cause any pain and typically takes around 10 to 30 minutes.
The duration depends on which part of a person is being scanned.
You are unlikely to get the results of the scan straight away, as the images will need to be assessed by a consultant.
Uses of CT scans
CT scans are often requested by doctors to look at:
Brain tumours, bleeding or swelling
Blood flow through vascular scans
Bone and spinal injuries
As well as diagnosing new conditions, CT scans may be used by doctors to check inside the body before another planned procedure. This might include radiotherapy treatment or finding the right place to take a tissue sample or biopsy from.
CT and MRI Scans
What is a MRI Scan?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.
An MRI scanner is a large tube that contains powerful magnets. You lie inside the tube during the scan.
An MRI scan can be used to examine almost any part of the body, including the:
brain and spinal cord
bones and joints
heart and blood vessels
internal organs, such as the liver, womb or prostate gland
The results of an MRI scan can be used to help diagnose conditions, plan treatments and assess how effective previous treatment has been.
What happens during an MRI scan?
During an MRI scan, you lie on a flat bed that's moved into the scanner. Depending on the part of your body being scanned, you'll be moved into the scanner either head first or feet first.
The MRI scanner is operated by a radiographer, who is trained in carrying out imaging investigations. They control the scanner using a computer, which is in a different room, to keep it away from the magnetic field generated by the scanner.
You'll be able to talk to the radiographer through an intercom and they'll be able to see you on a television monitor throughout the scan.
At certain times during the scan, the scanner will make loud tapping noises. This is the electric current in the scanner coils being turned on and off. You'll be given earplugs or headphones to wear.
It's very important to keep as still as possible during your MRI scan. The scan lasts 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the area being scanned and how many images are taken.
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