Weight Bearing CT Scan
What is Computed Tomography?
Computed Tomography is commonly called ‘CT’. CT is a way of using X-rays to take pictures or images in very fine slices through the part of the body that the doctor has asked to be investigated. One way to think of it is of taking slices through a loaf of bread, with more slices providing increasingly detailed images.
Weight bearing CT provides extra information for you and your doctor as it allows for 3D visualisation of your foot and/or ankle in a weight bearing position which is otherwise impossible with a conventional CT scan.
Once the radiographer has taken the scan, these very thin slices can be put all together to reconstruct the loaf (or
in this case your body). Once they are put back together the radiographer can cut it into the slices that will help the radiologist (a doctor who has specialised in diagnostic imaging) to see the parts of the body that are of interest.
With all of these different slices and 3D reconstructions,
the radiologist will have a very detailed picture of the structures making up your body. This should help them to make a diagnosis so that the right treatment can be planned as soon as possible.
How do I prepare for a weight bearing CT?
No preparation is required.
How long does weight bearing CT take?
A Weight Bearing CT scan usually takes about 10 minutes to perform. The radiographer will scan you in a couple of different positions and they will explain all this to you at greater length during your scan.
While the scan time of the scan is relatively short, the radiographer can take up to an hour to get the pictures that your referring doctor and the radiologist requires to make a diagnosis. You do not need to be present in the department while this work is being done.
What happens during Computed Tomography?
CT scans are designed to look at specific parts of the body and are tailored for each person, to investigate their particular condition. This means that all CT scans are slightly different.
The radiographer performing the scan will give you detailed instructions on the positions required to perform the scan. Some of the scans will be done with you weight bearing and some with you seated. The radiographer will be close to you at all times should you require assistance or help.
The first few scans are usually done to set up the machine ready for the test. When the test is programmed into the computer by the radiographer and the scan is ready to go, they may remind you to keep still.
Once the radiographer has reviewed the images briefly to check that the appropriate areas have been shown, they will assist you down the scanner. The radiographer will not be able to give you any results after the scan; this is the responsibility of your doctor and the radiologist who interprets the images from the scan and provides a report to your doctor.
What are the risks of Computed Tomography?
As is the case with most tests and medications prescribed by your doctor, CT does have risks that cannot be avoided.
Our staff are highly trained to minimise these risks by using the lowest possible radiation dose to achieve quality images that allow the radiologist to make an accurate diagnosis.
A CT scanner uses X-rays to obtain the pictures required for the radiologist to make a diagnosis. As is commonly known, X-rays are a form of radiation and must be used carefully by trained professionals to decrease the risks involved.
These risks are:
A very small increase in the risk of developing cancer later in life. This low risk is considered to be outweighed by the benefits provided by the scan.
Risk to an unborn child if you are pregnant. This risk could take the form of a very small increase in the risk of cancer or a malformation if you are exposed to radiation during the first months of your pregnancy.
Minimising risks from radiation include making sure that every CT scanner in use is regularly maintained and calibrated (tested and set to ensure accuracy) by specialised technicians. This is required by State and Federal laws.
How do I get my results?
Your doctor will receive a written report on your test as soon as is practicable.
It is very important that you discuss the results with the doctor whom referred you so that they can explain what the results mean for you.
This information is credited to Inside Radiology, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiology (RANZCR).
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