CT Scan FAQs

Q: Is CT an X-Ray?

A: Yes. A CT scan is made up of a series of X-rays which are processed by a computer to produce cross-sectional pictures of the part of the body in question. These cross-sectional images allow one to look at the inside of the body just as one would look at the inside of a loaf of bread by slicing it. A CT scan is made up of a series of slices.

Q: Do I have to go into that “tunnel”?

A: The tunnel is the opening in the CT scanner. It is a short tunnel that is open in the front and back. Since the opening contains the X-ray tube and detector which create the CT pictures, the part of your body being scanned must pass through it. For example if your head or neck is being evaluated, then your head and neck will pass through the opening. If the scan is of your abdomen, then only your lower chest down will pass through the gantry.

Q: Should I be concerned about the amount of radiation I receive?

A: Radiation safety is of paramount importance to Rhode Island Medical Imaging. Our equipment and exam protocols are regularly evaluated to ensure that the lowest amount of radiation is used that will still result in the highest quality imaging.  RIMI participates in the national programs called Image Gently and Image Wisely to ensure we provide the safest exams possible.

Q: Why do I need an injection?

A: For some CT scans, dye or contrast is injected into a vein. This contrast can help distinguish normal tissues from abnormal tissues. It also helps to distinguish blood vessels from other structures such as lymph nodes.

Q: I’ve heard that the dye injection is dangerous. Is that true?

A: As with any medication, people can have an allergic reaction to the intravenous (IV) dye or contrast. At RIMI we use the safest available contrast agent. Before each test, we screen all patients for risk factors such as prior reaction to IV dye, prior severe reaction to medications/foods, or severe asthma. A small number of patients may be referred to the hospital for the CT exam after careful consideration by the radiologist and their doctors.

Q: How and when will I get the results of the exam?

A: Your exam will usually be read the same day and the report will be sent to your physician as soon as possible after the radiologist has completed his or her interpretation. If requested by your physician, or if there is an urgent finding, a report will be called in to your physician the same day the exam is read. You can get the results from your doctor.