Brain CT Scan

Computed tomography (CT) scan (also known as CAT scan) of the Head and Brain is a painless radiology exam, which may be performed to examine the cause of pain in the head and brain area in a non-invasive manner. In the Brain CAT scan, multiple images of the skull, brain, nasal passages (sinuses), and blood vessels in the head are generated. These images are more detailed than traditional x-rays. The brain CT scan aids doctors in evaluating abnormalities in the head and detecting:
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Head injuries
  • Infections
  • Tumors
  • Bleeding and fluid buildup in the brain
  • Stroke
  • Birth defects

Brain CT Scan

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When to test

A normal brain CT scan is usually ordered by doctors, if you have one or more of the following indications:

  1. Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or stroke
  2. Acute trauma
  3. Shunt function
  4. Sudden onset of severe headache
  5. Transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke
  6. Vertigo or dizziness
  7. Tenderness over the skull
  8. Blood or fluid from an ear or nose
  9. Reduced vision
  10. Repeated vomiting
  11. Trouble in hearing, speaking, or swallowing

Alternatively, your doctor may also suggest you take the CBC w/ diff test and undergo Brain MRI depending upon your symptoms and condition.

How long does a brain CT scan take?

A CT scan of the brain is usually completed within 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the preparation required and whether it includes the use of a contrast medium. The scan itself may take just a few minutes to complete.

Is radiation involved in the brain CT scan?

Yes. CT scan is an imaging test which involves a small amount of radiation to show pictures of the organs, tissues, and bones of the body.

When will I receive my results?

Once the CT scan of the brain is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.

How do I prepare? Do I need to fast?

Do not wear hair pins, hair weaves, eye makeup or jewelry on the day of your appointment. No preparations for non-contrast exams. If with contrast, do not eat or drink 4 hours prior to scanning. Can take usual medication with a sip of water. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.


  1. Before starting the CT scan, you will have to remove all the metal objects on your body, including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
  2. Then you will have to lie still on the CT scanner table, which will move slowly through a doughnut-shaped machine. Pillows and straps may be used to help keep your head still during the scan.
  3. The scanner will move in a circle around your body and X-ray beam will pass through your body for small amounts of time. It will take multiple images that will be displayed on a monitor.
  4. During the scan, a technologist will give you instructions such as ‘stay still’ and ‘hold your breath for 10 to 12 seconds’ various times.
  5. You will be given a call button, so that you can inform the technologist, in case you face any problems during the scan.

For a brain CT scan with contrast, you will be asked to step out of the scanner after the first procedure. Post this, a contrast dye will be administered into your veins. This dye will show enhanced images of your brain in the scan results.

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* This is for educational purposes only. LabFinder does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All users should consult with a medical provider in person for any health concerns.