What a CT Scan Shows of the Head and Brain

June 8, 2017 – 3 min read

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What a CT Scan of the Head and Brain Shows

CT scans, short for computed tomography, are common imaging tests doctors use to diagnose certain medical conditions. There are a variety of conditions CT imaging can identify, and if your doctor orders a head or brain CT scan, you probably have questions about the procedure and what to expect from it.

What Is a Head CT Scan?

A head CT scan produces three-dimensional pictures of your head, referred to as “slices.” These images are created when X-ray beams are rotated around the head and neck, allowing technicians to observe a 2D representation of this area. These slices allow your doctor to see your skull, brain, sinuses, eye sockets and more in order to diagnose a range of conditions.

Why Did My Doctor Request a Head CT Scan?

CT scans of the head can help your doctor identify or rule out potential health problems. Symptoms that may lead your doctor to order one include:

  • Abnormal behavior
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Headaches
  • Hearing or vision loss

A variety of underlying health problems can cause these symptoms. A few conditions head CT scans help to diagnose include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Brain tumors
  • Aneurysms
  • Strokes
  • Internal bleeding
  • Brain infections
  • Fluid buildup

Often times, a doctor will order a head CT scan after a head injury, such as a concussion or if you experience a car accident.

Has your doctor ordered a head CT scan? Find an AHI location today to make an appointment.

What Does a CT Scan of the Head/Brain Show?

Head CT scans produce pictures of the bones in the skull. CT scans of the brain can help identify brain tumors or injury, and they can be used to plan radiation therapy to treat brain cancers.

Helpful as a CT scan of the brain is, an MRI is often preferred over CT for brain examination. This is because an MRI is better at producing images of soft tissue. However, an MRI operates through the use of magnets. Therefore, they aren’t safe for patients with pacemakers and other implanted medical devices. These patients require CT instead.

For patients without implanted medical devices, an MRI may be recommended even after a successful CT scan. This is often done so that doctors have a clearer picture of what is going on in your head or brain.

Preparing for a Head or Brain CT Scan

On the day of your CT scan, you may be asked not to eat or drink for a period of time before your scan. This helps ensure quality images, which are essential for getting to the root of your health condition.

Some head CT scans require use of a contrast dye. In this case, the imaging center staff administers this to you intravenously before your scan.

Additionally, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown and to remove jewelry before the scan.

Whether you undergo a head or brain CT, you should not experience any pain from the exam.

After your scan, the results are sent to your doctor, who reviews them and then discusses your diagnosis and next steps with you.

Head CT Scans at American Health Imaging

If your doctor has ordered a CT scan of the head or brain, American Health Imaging’s nonhospital imaging centers make your scan as convenient and comfortable as possible. With up-to-date equipment and highly trained personnel, we offer a quality experience, without the added cost and inconvenience associated with a hospital CT.

Contact us to find the center closest to you or take some time to learn more about AHI’s CT services.

This post was updated on 11/17/2020.