St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Cervical spine CT scan

    CAT scan – cervical spine; Computed axial tomography scan – cervical spine; Computed tomography scan – cervical spine; CT scan - cervical spine; Neck CT scan

    A computed tomography (CT) scan of the cervical spine makes cross-sectional pictures of the neck. It uses x-rays to create the images.

    How the Test is Performed

    You will lie on a narrow table that slides into the center of the CT scanner.

    Once you are inside the scanner, the machine's x-ray beam rotates around you. (Modern "spiral" scanners can perform the exam without stopping.)

    A computer creates separate images of the body area, called slices. These images can be stored, viewed on a monitor, or printed on film. Three-dimensional models of the cervical spine can be created by adding the slices together.

    You must be still during the exam. Movement can cause blurred images. You may need hold your breath for short periods of time.

    The scan take 10-15 minutes.

    How to Prepare for the Test

    Some exams use a special dye, called contrast, that is put into your body before the test starts. Contrast helps certain areas show up better on the x-rays.

    Contrast can be given in different ways:

    • It may be given through a vein (IV) in your hand or forearm.
    • It may be given as an injection into the space around the spinal cord.

    If contrast is used, you may also be asked not to eat or drink anything for 4-6 hours before the test.

    Let your doctor know if you have ever had a reaction to contrast. You may need to take medicines before the test to avoid this problem.

    Before having the contrast, tell your health care provider if you take the diabetes medicine metformin (Glucophage). You may need to take extra steps before the test if you take this drug.

    Too much weight can cause damage to the scanner's working parts. Find out if the CT machine has a weight limit if you weight more than 300 pounds.

    You will wear a hospital gown during the study. You will need to take off all jewelry.

    How the Test Will Feel

    Some people may have discomfort from lying on the hard table.

    Contrast given through an IV may cause a slight burning feeling, a metal taste in the mouth, and a warm flushing of the body. These feelings are normal and go away in a few seconds.

    Why the Test is Performed

    CT makes detailed pictures of the body very quickly. The test may help look for:

    • Birth defects of the cervical spine in children
    • Spine problems, when a spine MRI cannot be used
    • Injury to the upper spine
    • Bone tumors and cancers
    • Broken bone
    • Disc herniations and compression of the spinal cord

    Normal Results

    Results are considered normal if the cervical spine looks okay.

    What Abnormal Results Mean

    Abnormal results may be due to:

    • Birth defects of the cervical spine
    • Bone problems
    • Fracture
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Disc herniation

    Risks

    Risks of CT scans include:

    • Being exposed to radiation
    • Allergic reaction to contrast dye

    CT scans expose you to more radiation than regular x-rays. Having many x-rays or CT scans over time may raise your risk for cancer, but the risk from any one scan is small. Talk to your doctor about this risk and how it weighs against the benefits of the test.

    Some people have allergies to contrast dye. Let your doctor know if you have ever had an allergic reaction to injected contrast dye.

    • The most common type of contrast given into a vein contains iodine. If a person with an iodine allergy is given this type of contrast, nausea or vomiting,sneezing, itching,or hives may occur.
    • If you must have this type of contrast, your doctor may give you antihistamines (such as Benadryl) or steroids before the test.
    • The kidneys help remove iodine out of the body. People with kidney disease or diabetes may need to get extra fluids after the test to help flush the iodine out of the body.

    Rarely, the dye may cause a life-threatening allergic response called anaphylaxis. If you have any trouble breathing during the test, you should notify the scanner operator immediately. Scanners come with an intercom and speakers, so the operator can hear you at all times.

    References

    Torg JS. Cervical spine injuries. Huber FG. Arm. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 16.

    Gardocki RJ, Camillo FX. Other discorders of the spine. In: CanaleST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbells's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 44.

    Grainger RG, Thomsen HS, Morcos SK, Koh DM, Roditi G. Intravascular contrast media for radiology, CT, and MRI. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 2.

    Shaw AS, Dixon AK. Multidetector computed tomography. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 4.

    BACK TO TOP

          A Closer Look

            Self Care

              Tests for Cervical spine CT scan

              Review Date: 1/17/2013

              Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

              The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
              adam.com

              A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


              Back  |  Top
              About Us
              Contact Us
              History
              Mission
              Locations & Directions
              Quality Reports
              Annual Reports
              Honors & Awards
              Community Health Needs
              Assessment

              Newsroom
              Services
              Brain & Spine
              Cancer
              Heart
              Maternity
              Orthopedics
              Pulmonary
              Sleep Medicine
              Urgent Care
              Women's Services
              All Services
              Patients & Visitors
              Locations & Directions
              Find a Physician
              Tour St. Luke's
              Patient & Visitor Information
              Contact Us
              Payment Options
              Financial Assistance
              Send a Card
              Mammogram Appointments
              Health Tools
              My Personal Health
              mystlukes
              Spirit of Women
              Health Information & Tools
              Clinical Trials
              Health Risk Assessments
              Employer Programs -
              Passport to Wellness

              Classes & Events
              Classes & Events
              Spirit of Women
              Donate & Volunteer
              Giving Opportunities
              Volunteer
              Physicians & Employees
              For Physicians
              Remote Access
              Medical Residency Information
              Pharmacy Residency Information
              Physician CPOE Training
              Careers
              Careers
              St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
              Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile