CT scan and its risks

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What is a CT (Computed Tomography) scan?  

Computerised tomography (CT) is, sometimes referred to as computerised axial tomography (CAT), refers to a medical imaging procedure that uses specialised x-ray equipment to create detailed images, or scans, of organs, bones and tissues inside your body.

CT procedures involve using an x-ray machine to provide a clear picture of your organs, bones and tissues. CT scan gives a detailed picture than the normal x-ray.

How does CT scan work?  

CT Scan normally involves a rotating machine that takes images of your body. The x-ray beam circulates in your body, providing a series of images from different angles. These series of images are sent to a computer, where they are combined to produce a single or cross-section image of your body. These images are combined to create 3-D images for a particular part of your body.

CT scan can be used to produce detailed images of your bones, tissues and blood vessels of your body. Thus, a CT scan allows the doctor to diagnose your cause and treat it accordingly.

How are CT scans done?  

To perform the CT scan, you will be asked to change into the hospital gown and should have to remove the metal objects or jewellery. Following are the steps about how CT scan works.

Step 1: You will be asked to lay down on the table

Step 2: The table will be sent slowly into the centre of the doughnut-shaped x-ray machine

Step 3: The x-ray machine rotates around your body, During  the rotating processes it is normal to hear buzzing noise produced from the machine

Step 4: You will be asked to stay still or to hold your breath because the movement can blur the images

The time taken for the CT scan may vary but will not exceed more than half an hour, and it is painless.

How does CT scan with contrast done?  

The CT scan with contrast is used in rare cases; the contrast can cause allergic reactions sometimes. A CT scan can give a clear picture of a dense material like bones. On the other hand, the soft tissues may look blue or faint. So, to make a clear picture of soft tissues, a special dye in the name of contrast material is given to you. The contrast material or special dye appears white on the x-ray as it blocks the x-ray. Thus, giving a clear picture of your blood vessels.

Iodine and barium are commonly used materials for contrast in CT scans. The contrast is usually given in three ways, orally or injected in your veins or through an enema. Usually, you must consume plenty of water to detox the contrast material from your body.

CT scan procedure

The procedure is usually done in a hospital 

CT scans can either be done as an outpatient procedure or as part of your hospital stay. Procedures could change based on your health and your doctor’s preferences. In general, a patient must put on a gown during a CT scan.

You’d most likely visit a radiology office or a hospital for a scan. Before the surgery, your doctor might advise you to avoid eating for a few hours. A radiologic technologist will carry out the CT scan.

Remove jewellery and other metal objects 

Removing jewellery and other objects that are metals is essential before the scanning procedure. Even if it were accidentally scanned in the area of requirement, there is a good chance that it wouldn’t have any impact on the scan’s ability to provide a diagnosis because the jewellery is exterior, and the area of interest is usually always inside.

Create a cross-sectional picture

Through computer processing, cross-sectional images of the bones, blood arteries and soft tissues inside your body are produced during a computerised tomography (CT) scan, which combines several X-ray images collected from various angles of the body.

Sedative to keep you calm

Occasionally, taking a sedative before an imaging test can help you relax. To ensure that you remain calm throughout your test, ask your doctor about receiving a prescription for a light sedative.

Risk factors involved in CT scan

 Chances of developing a fatal cancer 

 CT scan has a risk of causing cancer of roughly 1 in 2,000 individuals. Radiation sensitivity varies among different organs.

Exposure to radiation

 X-rays, which create ionising radiation, are used in CT scans. According to research, this type of radiation may harm your DNA and cause cancer. You are generally exposed to more radiation when you do more CT scans.

Allergic reactions to contrast dyes 

 A small percentage of patients react to contrast dyes after receiving it. The majority of individuals who experience these delayed reactions include rashes, itchy skin, headaches or nausea.

Skin creams, steroids and antihistamines may be necessary for treatment if you experience a delayed reaction to contrast.

Increased cancer risk 

 X-rays, a kind of ionising radiation, are used during CT imaging. It is well known that ionising radiation exposure raises cancer risk.

Results of CT scan


 A tumour’s size, position and shape can all be seen on a CT scan.

Blood clots 

 Through the exact and thorough imaging of the body’s blood arteries and their obstructions, CT scans can identify and diagnose blood clots. For the identification and diagnosis of blood clots, doctors typically employ CT venography and CT pulmonary angiography procedures.


Your bones can be examined for damage, diseases, fractures or other issues using a bone CT scan. Joints and soft tissues, such as cartilage, muscles and tendons, can also be viewed on a CT scan.

Kidney stone

 A CT scan and an ultrasound are two imaging exams to look for kidney stones. You might require a second imaging test if the first one is not clear. A CT scan was frequently used as the initial imaging test to look for kidney stones.

Intestinal problems

 An abdominal and pelvic computed tomography (CT) test is a diagnostic imaging test. It assists medical professionals in identifying colon, small bowel and other internal organs disorders.

It is frequently employed to identify the origin of inexplicable pain.

What is the use of CT scans?

The CT scan is useful to diagnose all diseases and complications.

  • Bone and joint problems or tumours
  • Help to detect tumour Diagnosis cancer and its stages
  • Blood clot or block in blood vessels
  • Internal injuries and bleeding
  • Diagnosis heart diseases

What are the side effects of CT scans?

The ionising radiation produced by the x-ray is the major reason for side effects. It may even cause cancer as the radiation damages the DNA. Exposure to radiation during pregnancy may increase the risk of developing birth defects so you can opt for an ultrasound.

When the tables turn to contrast materials, it can cause allergic reactions in your body. The reaction may vary from mild to high. You may suffer from minor reactions like itchy or rash to severe diseases.

Consult your doctor if you suffer from any allergies within a short period after your CT scan. If diagnosed with kidney failure or problems, inform your doctor. The contrast can cause kidney problems if you have impaired kidney function. Radiation is more harmful to children than adults.


The rate of risk is low.(Only on being exposed to radiation, the risk increases).Let your doctor know about your health complications before the CT scan, definitely, it will make the way easy for you and your doctor to diagnose or treat your diseases.

Otherwise, one complication will lead its way to many. CT scan cannot be avoided at the neck of the movement when there is a need to perform it. Instead, you can prevent the diseases or complications that raised the need for a CT scan.


 What is a CT scan? 

 A CT scan (Computer Tomography) scan reveals the shape and size of a tumour. CT scan is also called spiral CT or helical CT scan.

How long will my CT exam take? 

 A CT scan should take about an hour. That time is primarily used for preparation. The actual scan only takes ten to thirty minutes.

Generally, you can resume your activities as soon as a healthcare professional says it is okay to do so. This usually happens once the scan is finished and clear images have been confirmed.

What happens after the CT scan?

 The technician will keep an eye on you for any side effects or reactions to the contrast dye right after the scan. An allergic reaction, itching, swelling or respiratory problems are examples of CT scan side effects.

What should you not do before a CT scan?

 Do not eat anything three hours before your CT scan if your doctor prescribed a contrast-enhanced CT scan.

What do I need to know before getting a CT scan? 

 You might get specific instructions if you were provided with contrast material. You’ll probably be instructed to drink a lot of water after the scan to aid your kidneys in flushing the contrast material from your system.

Do you have to get completely undressed for a CT scan? 

 Typically, a radiology technologist performs a CT scan. You might want to remove the jewellery. Depending on the researched area, you will need to remove all or most of your clothing.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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