CT Scanning of the Head
CT scanning—sometimes called CAT scanning—is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.
CT scanning combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These cross-sectional images of the area being studied can then be examined on a computer monitor or printed.
CT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity and reveal more details than regular x-ray exams.
CT scanning provides more detailed information on head injuries, stroke, brain tumors and other brain diseases than regular radiographs (x-rays).
CT scanning of the head is typically used to detect:
- bleeding, brain injury and skull fractures in patients with head injuries.
- bleeding caused by a ruptured or leaking aneurysm in a patient with a sudden severe headache.
- a blood clot or bleeding within the brain shortly after a patient exhibits symptoms of a stroke.
- a stroke, especially with a new technique called Perfusion CT.
- brain tumors.
- enlarged brain cavities (ventricles) in patients with hydrocephalus.
- diseases or malformations of the skull.
CT scanning is also performed to:
- evaluate the extent of bone and soft tissue damage in patients with facial trauma, and planning surgical reconstruction.
- diagnose diseases of the temporal bone on the side of the skull, which may be causing hearing problems.
- determine whether inflammation or other changes are present in the paranasal sinuses.
- plan radiation therapy for cancer of the brain or other tissues.
- guide the passage of a needle used to obtain a tissue sample (biopsy) from the brain.
- assess aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations through a technique called CT angiography.