Benefits vs Risks of a Head CT

Head CT Benefits

  • A CT scan is one of the safest means of studying the head.
  • CT is the most reliable imaging technique for determining if the sinuses are obstructed. It is the best imaging modality for sinusitis.
  • 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 clinical 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.

Head CT 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 four to eight months.
  • Women should always inform their doctor and 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 breastfeeding.
  • 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.