Top 5 questions asked by patients prior to CT scan.

MRIPETCTSOURCE understands that there is often more questions than answers when you are undergoing imaging procedures. We are here to provide you with the resources you need. In this Blog Series, we will answer questions commonly asked by patients prior to a CT exam.

  1. Q: Are CT scan results instant? How long before I receive results for CT scan? Are CT Scan results available immediately

A: Computed Tomography images are reconstructed within minutes of ending exam. Images can be viewed by your technologist but can only be read by a Radiologist to diagnose any medical conditions. Upon ending your exam, Images are immediately sent to a PACS system so they may be available for your Radiologist to read. Results are forwarded to GP and results are typically made available to patients within 24 – 48 hours of exam.

Q: What does the “CT” in CT scan stand for? What Does CT mean?

A: “CT” is short for Computed Tomography. It refers to the powerful image reconstruction and generation computers that render images out of the raw data received from the X-ray generation and detector assemblies

Q: How much radiation in a CT scan? Radiation exposure in a CT Scan

A: The effective dose for radiation exposure is measured in milliSeiver, mSv. According to recent study by Stanford Medical, the average U.S. citizen receives about 3.6 mSv per year in ambient environmental radiation exposure.

  • Chest X-ray approximate radiation dose of .1 mSv
  • Mammography exam approximate radiation dose of .4 mSv
  • Head CT Scan approximate radiation dose of 2 mSv
  • Chest CT scan approximate radiation dose of 7 mSv
  • Abdomen CT scan approximate radiation dose of 10 mSv

*Radiation dose may double if using contrast due to repeated scan after contrast injection.


4. Q: Can a CT scan detect cancer?

A: CT scans can be used to detect and monitor cancer, tumors and masses within the anatomy. Contrast agents are administered to patients that highlight the growth and metastization throughout the body. Dedicated oncology imaging systems will often have a PET scanner paired with a CT system. This allows for precise tracking throughout the anatomy with both systems while minimizing radiation exposure. Images from both systems are overlaid and read by a radiologist.

5. Q: Are CT scans dangerous?

A:  Computerized tomography is at the forefront of a medical technological innovation. New methods and systems are being developed that result in lower scan times and exponentially less radiation exposure than prior methods. We have a table available above that gives you a relative spectrum of expected radiation exposures during a CT scan. These values are averages and can vary between systems. CT scans are safer than they have ever been before. Increased risk of cancer due to CT scans is so minimal that the American College of Radiology considers it so small that it cannot be reliably measured. One must consider that even though exposure is minimal, patients are still subjected to radiation and for that reason the American College of Radiology advises that patients only undergo exam when there is a clear medical benefit (cases such as trauma, oncology, monitoring disease, aid in diagnosis)


Thank you for joining us! This is the first part of our Q & A Blog Series, so check back often for new content. If you have any questions you would like answered feel free to visit our Contact Us page and send us a message. We would love to hear from you!


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