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Our commitment to low-dose imaging and to eliminating unnecessary or duplicate exams helps Wake Radiology improve patient outcomes and reduce the overall cost of healthcare.
WakeRad Rises Above
✔ 100% of Wake Radiology radiologists maintain all required certifications through the American Board of Radiology.*
✔ All images are read and interpreted by a board certified, subspecialty trained radiologist.
*Most local and regional radiology options have 20% compliance with these standards. Public Policy Polling, 2012.
What to Expect at Your CT Exam
We find that patients are often as concerned about having a CT or CAT scan as they are about what may be learned about their pains or illness. That’s why we’ve pulled together information about what will happen during and after your CT scan. At Wake Radiology, we work to ensure you have a comfortable and anxiety-free experience.
Here is what you can learn on this page:
- Your CT scan at Wake Radiology
- Low-dose CT imaging
- Typical length of a CT exam
- Exam prep and aftercare
- Bringing children to your exam
- Finding out your results
- Understanding insurance and your exam
How does a CT work
A CT scan, sometimes called a Computed, is a non-invasive medical imaging tool that combines the use of X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple, cross-sectional images of the inside of your body. During a CT scan, x-rays pass through the desired area of your body and are attenuated or “filtered” as they travel through the body to detectors. Information collected from the detectors is then generated on a computer and interpreted by our radiologists.
CT imaging is extremely sensitive and provides superior clarity when studying internal organs, bones, soft tissues, and blood vessels. CT scans are more detailed than conventional X-ray exams and are a reliable tool for the rapid evaluation of serious illness and injuries in both adults and children. CT imaging can lower the chance of misdiagnosis, improve cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as guide the treatment for an injury, infection, and cardiac or vascular disease.
At Wake Radiology, all of our CT technologists are board certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. This additional education and certification help ensure the responsible use of this advanced technology while obtaining images. Our radiologists are onsite at our CT imaging offices to ensure that the appropriate exam is performed and that high-quality images are obtained. This helps reduce patient anxiety and overall imaging costs.
Understanding Low-Dose CT Imaging
Wake Radiology’s CT program uses dose reduction software and custom built protocols for adult and pediatric CT exams. We proudly participate in the Image Gently and Image Wisely initiatives sponsored by the Alliance for Radiation Safety for pediatric and adult imaging respectively. As well, Wake Radiology follows ACR guidelines for contrast administration to ensure the safety of our patients when IV contrast is required for their CT exam.
The typical length of a CT exam
The amount of time needed for your CT scan depends on what part of your body is being imaged. It can range between 15 minutes to 90 minutes. During your exam:
- Technologist performing your exam will review pertinent medical history with you
- If oral and/or IV prep required for the exam it will be given
- The scan will be performed
- Images will be reviewed to ensure no additional imaging is needed before you leave the office
Exam Prep and Aftercare
During a CT scan, our technologist will help you lie down on a padded table. The table is moveable and will gently pass your body through the CT scanner’s large, donut-shaped gantry. The machine will never touch you and you will be able to see what’s around you. Patients are asked to hold extremely still while all images are being taken to ensure a clear picture. You may be instructed to hold your breath at different intervals during the scan. This will only last for a few seconds.
When your body moves through the CT scanner’s gantry, x-rays will pass through the desired area of your body and will be filtered, or attenuated, as they travel through the body. X-rays that successfully make it all the way through the body are measured by special detectors that send the information to a computer. The computer then processes this information so that the resulting images can be displayed via computer and interpreted by our radiologists.
Some scans may require oral and/or IV contrast to be administered. This helps our radiologists distinguish structures within the body. If contrast is needed, you will be told by your referring physician or at the time of scheduling. After the scan, we’ll ask you to wait for a few minutes while the images are reviewed by the radiologist to ensure that no additional views are needed. If nothing else is needed, you’re free to go. You can resume your normal activities after your scan.
If you have a CT of your abdomen and/or pelvis, you will have the option to pick up oral contrast prior to your appointment or arrive an hour prior to your exam to drink on site. This oral contrast enhances the stomach and gastrointestinal tract for optimal visualization and in most cases is given in conjunction with IV contrast. The IV contrast is administered during the scan while lying on the table and is given for vascular and solid organ characterization.
Pediatric patients having an abdomen and/or pelvis scan will be asked to arrive an hour prior to appointment time to drink oral contrast on site. Most CT scans are very quick (just seconds); when unavoidable we will allow a parent/caregiver to remain in the room with pediatric patients during a scan, but prefer to minimize dose to all parties. We will not allow a pregnant parent/caregiver in the room during the scan, so please make arrangements for another person to accompany your child in the scan room.
Sedation – message after go-live
For most CT exams, sedation is not needed. It can be necessary for some longer exams that require a patient to be entirely motionless. If this is recommended, the doctor ordering the scan will talk with you prior to scheduling. We cannot administer sedation at our outpatient offices. These types of CT scan will be performed at UNC REX Healthcare.
Bringing children to your exam
Do not bring children who need immediate attention with you to your procedure. Wake Radiology employees are not able to watch unattended children.
Finding out the results
Once the CT exam is complete, your images are immediately routed to one of our subspecialty trained radiologists for interpretation. For example, if you had a knee CT, we make sure that your images are interpreted by one of our musculoskeletal/orthopedic radiologists. If previous images are available, we obtain these and our doctor compares the current exam with this historical information. This helps us determine any changes and how those changes should factor into a diagnosis. Our radiologist then provides an actionable report to your doctor who ordered the CT. Your doctor will follow up with you regarding your results and if necessary, develop a treatment plan based on that diagnosis.
Understanding insurance and your exam
Wake Radiology is a contracted, in-network provider for most major managed care plans in our area, including United Healthcare. If you have insurance, you will not need to make a payment on the day of your exam unless you have an account in collections. Wake Radiology will file the claim on your behalf and simply bill you for any remaining balance after insurance has processed your claim. For patients whose plans are not within our managed care network, we will also file claims. Importantly, most of these insurance plans have out-of-network benefits that can help cover Wake Radiology imaging fees.
Third-party companies, often working on behalf of insurance companies, do attempt to steer patients to other imaging practices for a variety of reasons. If you are contacted by one of these companies, check with your physician before changing your appointment. We believe it’s important to both trust your referring provider’s recommendation and to know more about steerage in our area.