Brain Imaging: CT of the Head

FACTS

  • CT stands for computed tomography.
  • X-rays produce cross-sectional images or “slices” that allow the provider to see changes in brain structures which, if abnormal, could contribute to changes in memory or movement. The images are more detailed than a standard x-ray.
  • Contrast, or an injected dye, may be ordered to provide even greater definition of the structures. Contrast is used if a mass, infection or inflammation in the brain is suspected.
  • Additional information will be provided if contrast is ordered.

 

TEST SCHEDULING

  • Carolina Imaging is the provider of choice for brain images ordered by Memory & Movement Charlotte (MMC). They have multiple testing sites throughout the region.
  • Once the order is entered, the need for prior authorization from the insurance company will be determined. The test cannot be scheduled until authorization is confirmed.  The MMC staff will provide authorization information when available, often immediately upon sending the order. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the guarantor to confirm coverage.
  • Upon receiving the order, Carolina Imaging will schedule the test at the first available date and time. This may take up to 5 business days.
  • An automated call, text or email will communicate the scheduled date and time to the person for whom the test is scheduled. MMC does request the communication be provided to the caregiver if appropriate, but Carolina Imaging is not always able to honor this request.
  • If the scheduled date and time are feasible, no further action is needed.
  • If the scheduled date and time are not feasible, call Carolina Imaging at 704-512-2060 to reschedule.
  • If an automated message is not received after 5 days, please schedule by calling Carolina Imaging at 704-512-2060.
  • If a testing site other than Carolina Imaging is preferred, please let the provider know.

 

TEST PREPARATION

  • No preparation is needed unless contrast is ordered.
  • Take medications as prescribed and eat normally.
  • If contrast is ordered, additional instructions will be provided.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE TEST

  • Upon arrival at the testing area, jewelry is removed, and a gown provided.
  • While lying on a table, a machine with a large opening will rotate around the head, taking x-ray images.
  • Whirling and buzzing sounds occur during the test. It is important to lie still.
  • The test takes 15 to 30 minutes to complete.

 

TEST RESULTS

  • Test results are generally available within 24 hours.
  • Test results are best discussed at the next scheduled follow-up appointment so they can be presented along with other information to make a diagnosis.
  • The office may call before the next scheduled appointment if the result is significant and additional action is needed.