What Is Cervical Spine CT Scan?
Cervical Spine CT (Computed tomography) scan (also known as CAT scan) is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the neck area in a non-invasive manner. In this scan, multiple images of the bones, soft tissues, and organs of the neck are generated. This scan is also known as Neck CT Scan and CAT Scan of the Cervical Spine.
The cervical spine CT scan helps doctors in detecting inflammatory conditions, tumors, and injuries in the throat and surrounding areas. It also helps in evaluating other abnormalities in the neck such as tumor and infections.
The CT scan of the cervical spine may be done with or without the use of contrast material (dye) that is either taken by mouth (orally) or injected into the veins. When the contrast material is used, the organs are seen more clearly in the scanned images.
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Who Should Get a Cervical Spine CT Scan?
Your doctor may recommend a CT scan of the cervical spine if you have one or more of the following symptoms or ailments:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Vocal cord paralysis
What is the Purpose of a Cervical Spine CT Scan?
Your doctor may recommend a cervical spine CT scan to:
- Evaluate unusual neck pain with uncommon symptoms.
- Look for injuries to the neck after an accident.
- Diagnose birth defects of the cervical spine in children.
- Investigate tumors and cancer of the cervical spine.
- Check for broken bones.
- Diagnose the problem with the disc between the spinal bones (disk herniation).
- Evaluate infections of the cervical spine.
- Use it as a guide during the biopsy (procedure of tissue removal) or fluid removal from an infected area in the cervical spine.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Thoracic Spine CT Scan (Mid-Back) to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the mid-back. Your doctor may even recommend the Arthritis Screening Panel test to understand your symptoms thoroughly and assess your risk for arthritis disease. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How Is a Cervical Spine CT Scan Performed?
- Before starting the CT scan of the cervical spine, you will have to remove all the metal objects on your body, including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
- A technologist will ask you to lie down on the CT scanner table, which will move slowly through a doughnut-shaped machine.
- Once you are inside the CT scan machine, multiple images of your neck area will be taken, and these will be displayed on a monitor.
- At certain points during the scan, the technologist will ask you to hold your breath for 10 to 12 seconds. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
In case, your doctor has asked you to take a cervical spine CT scan with contrast, then a contrast dye will be injected into your vein shortly before the scan begins.
How Long Does a Cervical Spine CT Scan Take?
A CT scan of the cervical spine is usually completed within 40 minutes. This includes 20 minutes for preparation and 20 minutes for the scan.
Is Radiation Involved in a Cervical Spine CT Scan?
Yes. CT scan is an imaging test, which involves a small amount of radiation to show images of the organs, tissues, and bones of the neck.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Cervical Spine CT Scan?
- The risk for radiation exposure is low in a single CT scan. However, the effects of radiation and the risk of developing cancer due to radiation will increase with every CT Scana person gets.
- Developing babies are sensitive to radiation and are at more risk, so women should inform their doctors and the CT Scan technicians if they are pregnant.
- People who have implants containing metal, such as implanted screws or pacemakers, may not get accurate CT scan results.
- Some people might also have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in a CT scan.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the CAT scan of the cervical spine is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Cervical Spine CT Scan?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.
- Book and manage your personal health records
- Feel organized — keep your results in one place
- Save money — avoid surprise medical bills
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- Select your test & location
- Visit your appointment
- Access and share your test results any time