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What to Expect from a CT Scan with Contrast

Sep 15, 2021

When you visit the doctor after a car accident, they may tell you they want to run some tests. Diagnostic imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans help provide your doctor with a clearer picture of what is going on internally. For an injury like whiplash, your doctor will likely want to use a CT scan to get highly detailed images of bones, joints, muscles, tendons, spinal discs, and other soft tissues in your neck. They may even request a CT scan with contrast, which can help highlight damaged areas. A CT with contrast involves a contrast dye that can emphasize the specific areas being examined and give greater detail to damaged blood vessels, organs, and other soft tissues. Here is what you can expect from a CT scan with contrast.

How a CT Scan Works

CT stands for computerized tomography and is a type of scan used to diagnose injuries and medical conditions. CT scans are also used to help pinpoint the specific location of an issue like a tumor or blood clot. A CT scan may also be recommended to help detect and monitor certain diseases like cancer. If you were recently in an accident, then a doctor may recommend a CT scan to detect or rule out internal bleeding and other possible injuries. CT scans have a variety of uses and can be very beneficial in supporting your doctor’s diagnosis as well as monitoring your condition and recovery process.

A CT scan takes detailed X-ray images of your bones, soft tissues, and blood vessels inside the body. Unlike a regular X-ray, a CT scan takes cross-sectional images that allow for greater detail. CT scans are also quick and effective, making them regular options for detecting and diagnosing injuries after traumatic car accidents or sports injuries. Most CT scans are done in a hospital or outpatient settings, and these state-of-the-art technologies allow for a painless and quick scan. The CT scan machine is shaped like a donut, and you are inserted into the opening by a motorized table. The table moves you safely into the scanner, and then the tube rotates around your body while taking X-rays.

The Difference in a CT Scan with Contrast

In some cases, doctors may request a CT scan with contrast for greater detail or emphasis on a specific part of the body. If you have a CT with contrast scheduled, then you will be given a contrast material that is a special dye that helps highlight certain parts of the body so they show up brighter on the images. There are three ways you can receive the contrast material for a CT with contrast: by mouth, by injection, or by enema. The way you receive the contrast material may depend on the specific areas of the body being scanned and what organs or other tissues need highlighting. In some cases, you may be required to fast for a CT scan with contrast, while a regular CT scan would not have the same requirements. However, a CT with contrast can provide slightly more diagnostic accuracy than a regular CT scan.

Why You May Need a CT Scan

There are many reasons why your doctor may recommend a CT scan with contrast, especially if you were involved in a car accident. Injuries suffered in a car accident can often come with delayed symptoms due to the shock and adrenaline of the traumatic experience. A diagnostic imaging tool like a CT scan can help identify potential injuries as soon as possible, even if you have yet to start feeling any pain or other symptoms. CT scans are used to diagnose acute injuries because they are quick and effective diagnostic tools, but they can also be used with conditions that have developed slowly over time. Here are a few reasons why you may need a CT scan:

  • Diagnose Acute Injury
  • Detect Musculoskeletal Condition
  • Determine Location of Tumor or Infection
  • Monitor Disease or Health Condition

If you are scheduled for a CT with or without contrast, you can rest assured that the experience will take a very short amount of time and be painless. At AICA Orthopedics, our team of car accident doctors utilize in-house CT scans and other diagnostic imaging tools at the ready so you can meet with your doctor and get the scans you need all in one convenient location!


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