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Computed Tomography (CT) Scan of the Head and Face

What To Think About

  • Sometimes your CT test results may be different than those from other types of X-ray tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound scans because the CT scan provides a different view.
  • Children who need a CT scan may need special instructions for the test. If the child is too young to hold still or is afraid, the doctor may give the child a medicine (sedative) to help him or her relax.
  • If your child is scheduled for a CT scan, talk with your child's doctor about the need for the scan and the risk of radiation exposure to your child.
  • Special CT scanners called spiral (helical) CT scanners and multi-slice (or multi-detector) CT scanners are sometimes used for this test. They can find aneurysms or atherosclerosis camera.gif. These special CT scanners can:
    • Take better pictures of blood vessels and organs.
    • Produce scans in less time.
  • Perfusion CT is a method to look at blood flow in the brain. For this test, a dye (contrast material) is given intravenously (IV), and CT scans then follow the flow of the dye through the brain. This type of CT scan can show damaged areas of the brain. The scans also can show areas of the brain that are not getting any blood flow.
  • CT results are often compared to positron emission tomography (PET) results to help find cancer. Some new scanners do both scans at the same time.
  • A CT angiogram can show two- and three-dimensional pictures of blood vessels. To learn more, see the topic Angiogram of the Head and Neck.
  • MRI may give additional information after a CT scan of the head and face is done. To learn more, see the topic Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

Citations

  1. Einstein AJ, et al. (2007). Estimating risk of cancer associated with radiation exposure from 64-slice computed tomography coronary angiography. JAMA, 298(3): 317–323.

Other Works Consulted

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.

  • Pearce MS, et al. (2012). Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of leukaemia and brain tumours: A retrospective cohort study. Lancet, 380(9840): 499–505.

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2008). FDA preliminary public health notification: Possible malfunction of electronic medical devices caused by computed tomography (CT) scanning. Available online: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/PublicHealthNotifications/ucm061994.htm.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerHoward Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
Current as ofJune 5, 2013
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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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