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Radiology Exams

St. Louis CT Scans

Watson Imaging provides  CT or CAT scans, also known as computerized tomography scans, in St. Louis, Missouri. A CT scan is a series of X-ray images taken of sections of your body to get a cross-sectional image of an area of your body. These scans can be useful for imaging areas of the body that tend to block a single X-ray dimension, such as soft tissue areas.

Why Get a CT Scan?

You may have heard of a CT scan on a TV show about a hospital, where a doctor orders a CT scan when they don’t know what internal injuries a patient may have. A CT scan is useful for determining if there is trauma to a particular body part, or for detecting trauma to multiple parts of the body, since it is not always clear what internal trauma may have been caused and where, even looking at the entire body if necessary. These scans are sometimes common following a vehicle accident or other types of trauma, or to diagnose disease such as cancer and provide information for a doctor to be able to create a plan for medical or surgical treatment.

More Than Just Trauma – and TV Shows

While a CT scan is useful in determining what has happened as a result of a trauma, it also is useful in diagnosing a muscle disorder, a bone disorder, lung problems, abdominal diseases, finding a bone fracture, locating a tumor, finding a blood clot, and generally giving doctors a clearer picture of what is going on with a patient internally. CT scans can show organs, bones, blood vessels, and other body tissue. A CT scan can sometimes avoid the need for invasive alternatives.

How Does a CT Scan Work?

Just like on TV, a CT scan takes place in a CT scanner – a long machine with a circular opening. A patient lies down on a rolling table and has to stay still, sometimes even holding his or her breath, in order to get clear images, while detectors and the X-ray tube rotate around, capturing an image slice or cross-section image of the body with each rotation. A CT scan is painless and typically takes less than 30 minutes.

St. Louis CT Scans
St. Louis CT Scans

Preparing for a CT Scan

Depending on what part of the body is being scanned, a patient may have to remove some or all clothing and put on a hospital gown instead. Patients going into a scanner must remove metal objects such as belts and jewelry so as not to interfere with X-ray images. Patients likely will have to fast – including drinking fluids – before a scan. A patient may have to drink a fluid with a special dye or “contrast” in it before a CT scan to help X-ray images emphasize blood vessels, intestines and other internal structures. A patient may be asked to drink the fluid, may get injected with the fluid, or may have the material inserted in the rectum to better view a patient’s intestines. Here is more information about preparing for your CT scan.

Risks of a CT Scan

As with any type of scan that involves X-ray images, a CT scan exposes you to radiation – but at such small doses, especially in newer, faster CT scanners – that the amount is very low and the risk of radiation exposure usually is quite minimal compared to not having a CT scan. However, every exposure to radiation adds up, so be sure to talk with your doctor before having a CT scan to confirm it is the right decision.

Although it is always good to talk with your doctor about any concerns you may have, this is especially true of pregnant women, who will want to ensure their doctor knows they are pregnant. Although the risk of injury from radiation exposure for an unborn baby is very small, a pregnant woman’s doctor may consider other options first before exposing the baby to a CT scan or any other type of X-ray scan.

What to Do Following a CT Scan

Since a CT scan does not require sedation, except perhaps in the case of children receiving the scan, a patient usually can return to normal activity right after. If a patient has been given a special dye or contrast to capture CT scan images, that patient may be given special instructions for what to do after the scan, and may be observed for a short period of time following the scan. Images are interpreted by a radiologist and then sent to the patient’s doctor. The doctor will then discuss the results of the CT scan with the patient and form a plan from there.

Schedule Your CT Scan at Watson Imaging Center

If you need a CT scan, call us today to schedule your St. Louis CT scan!


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With our convenient office hours, many procedures can take only ten minutes or less and walk-in x-rays are welcome. Please note that we do not perform ultrasounds on Saturdays.

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St. Louis, MO - Hours
Monday - Thursday
8am - 4pm
8am - 2pm
2nd / 4th Saturday
8am - 12pm
Directions & Address
3915 Watson Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63109-1251