Head CT Scan

What is a Head CT?

A head CT, sometimes referred to as a CAT scan of the head, is a diagnostic exam using high speed x-ray detectors and a computer to produce images or thin cuts or slices through your brain.  This exam is performed to diagnose many very detailed disorders or injuries within the brain or skull.  Some of the most common reasons for this exam include checking for stroke, tumors, hydrocephalus or bleeding within the brain.

How is the examination performed?

All you will need to do is lie down on your back for a short time.  This examination may involve an injection of contrast into a vein in your hand or arm.  The contrast is used to better visualize the blood flow in the brain, thus enhancing certain disorders.  The Technologist performing your exam will go over a consent form that requires your signature and he/she will explain the contrast injection in detail if ordered.

Will I need to prepare for the exam?

Yes, please avoid wearing any metal objects on your head, such as hairpins or earrings.

Normally you can eat or drink, but on the rare occasion that your test is ordered with contrast, please do not eat 2 hours prior to your exam.

*Also, if ordered with contrast, a creatinine blood test is required for anyone that:

  1.   Is over 60 years old.
  2. Is diabetic.
  3. Has renal insufficiency.
  4. Has Chronic Heart Failure.

 *Please have your lab work done at least 24 hours prior to your scheduled CT scan; preferably within 30 days of your exam.

What will I experience?

You will be asked to lie down on your back on the table. Your head will be positioned in a cradle, and it will be very important for you to hold your head motionless during the scan (less than 2 minutes). If your exam is going to need contrast the Registered Technologist will start an intravenous access (IV) line in your arm or hand in order to be able to inject the x-ray contrast.  If no contrast is needed only one set of images will be acquired, lasting about 3 minutes. If contrast is needed, an additional set of images will be acquired, lasting about 10 minutes.

What happens next?

Your images will be analyzed by the Technologist and sent to the Radiologist’s computer for interpretation. If you had an injection, the IV will be removed and you are done.

Your images will be interpreted by a State of New Mexico licensed and board certified Physician, Radiologist, that specializes in radiology interpretation.  A report will be dictated, transcribed, and faxed to the Physician that ordered your test.  Your Physician will receive the report within 24 hours and is responsible for notifying  you of the results.


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