Benefits vs Risks of an Abdominal or Pelvic CT Scan
CT Scan Benefits
- Viewing a CT scan, an experienced radiologist can diagnose many causes of abdominal pain with very high accuracy. This enables faster treatment and often eliminates the need for additional, more invasive diagnostic procedures.
- When pain is caused by infection and inflammation, the speed, ease and accuracy of a CT examination can reduce the risk of serious complications such as those caused by a burst appendix or ruptured diverticulum and the subsequent spread of infection.
- CT scanning is painless, noninvasive and accurate.
- A major advantage of CT is its ability to image bone, soft tissue and blood vessels all at the same time.
- Unlike conventional X-rays, CT scanning provides very detailed images of many types of tissue as well as the lungs, bones, and blood vessels.
- CT examinations are fast and simple; in emergency cases, they can reveal internal injuries and bleeding quickly to help save lives.
- CT has been shown to be a cost-effective imaging tool for a wide range of medical problems.
- CT is less sensitive to patient movement than MRI.
- CT can be performed if you have an implanted medical device of any kind, unlike MRI.
- CT imaging provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and needle aspirations of many areas of the body, particularly the lungs, abdomen, pelvis and bones.
- A diagnosis determined by CT scanning may eliminate the need for exploratory surgery and surgical biopsy.
- No radiation remains in a patient's body after a CT examination.
- X-rays used in CT scans usually have no side effects.
CT Scan Risks
- There is always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk.
- The effective radiation dose from this procedure is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in three years.
- Women should always inform their doctor and X-ray or CT technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
- CT scanning is, in general, not recommended for pregnant women unless medically necessary because of potential risk to the baby.
- Nursing mothers should wait for 24 hours after contrast material injection before resuming breast feeding.
- The risk of serious allergic reaction to contrast materials that contain iodine is extremely rare, and radiology departments are well-equipped to deal with them.
- Because children are more sensitive to radiation, they should have a CT study only if it is essential for making a diagnosis and should not have repeated CT studies unless absolutely necessary.