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Computed Tomography (CT) Scan of the Head and Face

Risks

The chance of a CT scan causing a problem is small.

  • There is a chance of an allergic reaction to the dye (contrast material).
  • If you have diabetes or take metformin (Glucophage), the dye may cause problems. Your doctor will tell you when to stop taking metformin and when to start taking it again after the test so you will not have problems.
  • There is a small chance of developing cancer from having some types of CT scans.1 The chance is higher in children, young adults, and people who have many radiation tests. If you are concerned about this risk, talk to your doctor about the amount of radiation this test may give you or your child, and confirm that the test is needed.

Results

A computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to make detailed pictures of structures inside the body.

Complete results usually are ready for your doctor in 1 to 2 days.

CT scan of the head and face
Normal:

The brain and blood vessels and bones of the skull and face are normal in size, shape, and position.

No foreign objects or growths are present.

No bleeding or collections of fluid are present.

Abnormal:

A growth, such as a tumor, or bleeding is present in or around the brain. Foreign objects, such as glass or metal fragments, are present. The bones of the skull or face are broken (fractured) or look abnormal. Nerves leading to or from the brain are damaged or pinched.

A collection of fluid is found, which may mean bleeding in or around the brain.

An aneurysm is present.

The openings in the brain (ventricles) through which cerebrospinal fluid flows into the spine are enlarged. An area of the brain shows swelling (edema) or other changes that may mean a stroke.

The sinuses camera.gif are filled with fluid or have a thick lining.

What Affects the Test

The following may stop you from having the test or may change the test results:

  • Pregnancy. CT scans are not usually done during pregnancy.
  • Metal objects in the head. These items, such as surgical clips, aneurysm clips, or foreign bodies, may prevent a clear view of the body area.
  • You are not able to lie still during the test.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 05, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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