CT (Computed Tomography) scans are a type of medical imaging that use X-rays and advanced computer processing to create detailed, cross-sectional images of internal body structures. They provide valuable information for diagnosis and treatment and are non-invasive.
At Kent and Sussex Radiology Group, we 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 the Nuffield Hospital in Tunbridge Wells.
A CT scanner is ring shaped structure through which you pass whilst lying on a specialised table. Most scans are performed in less than 2 minutes although the whole procedure may take up to 20 minutes.
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 highly trained Consultant Radiologists. This is normally done by the member of our team who has the most expertise in relation to your condition. A report will then be sent to your Consultant, Surgeon or GP.
CT is the main imaging modality for lung disease 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 also routinely used in the assessment of major blood vessels and the brain.
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 coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart. 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 is able to replace conventional catheter angiography of the heart. This provides a large amount of information about the risk of a heart attack (myocardial infarction) and has the advantage of being much more convenient since it is an outpatient non-invasive procedure and no hospital inpatient stay is required.
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 avoid the need for a more invasive endoscopic evaluation of the bowel.
Many CT scans need no preparation. Sometimes an injection of a contrast agent will be given which allows the blood vessels to be clearly seen. This may require a routine blood test to check kidney function beforehand.
Many examinations of the abdomen and pelvis will require you to drink some oral contrast or water which allows the bowel to be more clearly seen. This may require you to attend up to an hour before the scan.
Given they involve X-Rays, CT scans do cause exposure to a small dose of radiation. However, this dose is small and the risk is therefore very small. Nevertheless, this examination is not undertaken lightly, and the Radiologists and referring clinician would only perform this examination if it is felt that the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs any possible risk.