At Radiology Muskegon, we are equipped with the most advanced CT imaging capabilities currently available for medical imaging. We perform CT scans at the outpatient Mercy Health Pavilion and at our hospital locations. CT exams can be performed rapidly as a life saving measure in the emergency setting with interpretation results provided usually within less than an hour. For outpatient CT exams, a scheduled appointment is required. It is important to understand that computed tomography creates images of your body through the use of ionizing radiation which can be detrimental to your health above acceptable radiation dose levels.
What is CT used for?
CT exams are primarily used to establish a diagnosis for disease conditions affecting the body and to evaluate for bodily injuries after trauma. CT exams are often used as an initial problem solving diagnostic tool but can also be used as an adjunct to other types of imaging to provide additional diagnostic information. CT imaging can also be utilized to assess therapeutic response to treatment, evaluate unexplained changes in your health, to guide interventional procedures and for anatomic evaluation required for presurgical planning.
Where do I go for a CT exam?
Outpatient CT exams are performed by appointment only at our Mercy Health Pavilion and occasionally at one of our hospital locations. Once a request for a CT exam is received and approved by the imaging department, the patient will be contacted and scheduled for the exam. Emergency room patients and inpatient CT exams are given priority and are performed 24 hours a day at our hospital locations.
How do I prepare for a CT exam?
Loose fitting clothing is recommended. Patients may be asked to change into a gown provided by the imaging facility, remove jewelry or empty pockets prior to the exam.
Prior to a scheduled appointment some preparation may be required. Patients may be asked to avoid eating/drinking and to withhold certain medications for a certain length of time prior to the exam. Some CT exams require insertion of an IV for hydration purposes or intravenous injection of iodinated contrast material. If IV contrast material is to be injected some patients may require a blood draw to evaluate kidney function prior to the exam. If a patient is allergic to iodinated IV contrast material and IV contrast administration is desired, the patient will require a steroid prep prior to the exam.
What are the benefits and risks of a CT exam?
CT is a diagnostic imaging tool that is rapid, painless, readily accessible and provides excellent anatomic detail of internal and external body parts. CT is useful for establishing a diagnosis quickly and is a vital part of effective patient care following body trauma. CT is useful for evaluating the effectiveness of certain surgical procedures and treatment regimens. The main risk of CT is the use of ionizing radiation to create images of the body. CT radiation doses are much higher than X-rays doses and an excessive cumulative lifetime radiation dose can be detrimental to a patient’s health. CT radiation dose levels are reported but cumulative doses are not currently tracked on an individual basis.
What will I experience during a CT exam?
Patients will be asked to lay down usually supine on the CT imaging table. A diagnostic CT exam is painless and performed quickly. Discomfort with CT imaging may be experienced due to required positioning of affected body parts during imaging. Some patients report a warm flushing sensation during IV injection of iodinated contrast material. Some patients experience a mild reaction following IV injection of iodinated contrast material such as itching, skin redness, nausea and a lightheaded feeling. These symptoms usually subside quickly requiring no medical intervention. Interventional procedures using CT guidance can be painful, in such instances IV sedation medications may be administered to alleviate pain and anxiety. The vast majority of CT exams are tolerated well by patients.
How do I get the results of a CT exam?
Exam results are usually available within 24 hours after the exam is performed. Once the exam is interpreted and reported by the radiologist, the exam results become immediately available for review by the requesting physician through the secure Mercy Health Partners patient portal system and the results become part of the patient’s permanent medical record. Patients can request a copy of their images at the performing imaging facility.
Are the costs of a CT exam covered by insurance?
The majority of CT exam costs are covered by private insurance plans and Medicaid/Medicare plans. CT exams are an advanced diagnostic imaging tool that are more expensive than basic types of imaging. At Radiology Muskegon, we strive to reduce unnecessary costs incurred by patients. There are options available to patients for financial assistance or reduced payment plan options if patients are not able to pay the costs of imaging.