Spine CT – Benefits and Risks
- Spinal CT is a rapid procedure and offers an accurate evaluation of bone and most soft tissues. Using the latest equipment, the spine may be displayed in multiple planes and three-dimensional imaging is an option.
- CT 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.
- CT has been shown to be a cost-effective imaging tool for a wide range of clinical problems.
- 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 may eliminate the need for exploratory surgery and surgical biopsy.
- No radiation remains in a patient's body after a CT examination.
- There is always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis will generally outweigh the risk.
- The effective radiation dose for this procedure varies.
- Women should always inform their physician and x-ray or CT technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
- CT is, in general, not recommended for pregnant women unless medically necessary because of potential risk to the baby.
- 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.
- Manufacturers of intravenous contrast indicate mothers should not breastfeed their babies for 24-48 hours after contrast medium is given.
- Because children are more sensitive to radiation, they should have a CT exam only if it is essential for making a diagnosis and should not have repeated CT exams unless absolutely necessary. CT exams in children should always be done with low-dose technique.
Watch the CT - What to Expect Video.