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CT Scans and CTA Imaging

With Banner's advanced technologies and certified radiology team, you’ll receive the most accurate results for any CT scan or CTA your doctor orders.

What Is a CT Scan?

A computed tomography scan is commonly known as a CT scan. It is an x-ray that views a specific part of your body from various angles and then combines these cross-sectional images to get a complete and comprehensive picture of internal organs, the brain, bones, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. Sometimes a contrast agent (also called a dye) is injected to enhance whatever the radiologist and your doctor are looking at.  

What Is a CAT Scan?

Although you may hear different names, a CAT scan is the same imaging test as a CT scan. CT stands for “computed tomography” and CAT stands for “computed axial tomography.”

When Is a CT Scan Used?

CT scans are commonly associated with detecting a stroke or brain injury, but it can be used in a number of different ways. CT scans can help:

  • Detect tumors, abscesses or other abnormalities in the body
  • Detect internal injury or bleeding
  • Assist doctors in determining the exact site of a tumor or area to biopsy
  • Guide surgical procedures

A CT scan is often combined with a PET scan to see how a treatment, such as a cancer treatment, is working. This ensures that you or your loved one is getting the right treatment or procedure at the right time and to the right area of your body. Learn more about PET scans.

What Is a CTA Scan?

CTA stands for computed tomography angiogram. It is a non-invasive procedure that combines a CT scan with the use of a special contrast injected into your bloodstream. An angiogram can also be performed without the use of a CT scan.

When Is a CTA Used?

A CTA (CT angiogram) is used to look for any abnormalities in blood vessels located in your brain, heart, lungs, kidneys or other areas of your body. It is commonly used to find the location of an aneurysm, examine blocked or narrowed arteries, find blood clots, identify abnormalities in your brain or to evaluate a tumor. CTAs are commonly used to help diagnose a stroke or heart attack (heart disease).

Where Can I Get a CT or CTA Scan?

A CT or CTA scan is usually an outpatient procedure, which means it can be done at a Banner Health hospital, clinic or at select Banner Imaging locations.Your doctor will give you further guidance to schedule your procedure. 

Find a Banner Imaging location near you that offers CT and CTA scans by selecting “CT/CT Angiography” under “exam type.” 

How to Prepare for a CT Scan or CTA

Typically, very little preparation is needed but common preparation includes:

  • Removing metal objects: You cannot wear any metal jewelry, hair clips or clothes with metal zippers or buttons
  • Fasting: Depending on the type of scan, you may be asked to fast for a few hours prior
  • Drinking fluids: For some abdominal or pelvic scans you may be asked to drink a large glass of oral contrast, such as barium, or water before the scan
  • Receiving a contrast agent: Depending on your scan, contrast agents (dyes) may be injected into your bloodstream 

What to Expect from a CT Scan or CTA

CT scans and CTAs are painless procedures. You will lie on a motorized table that moves through the CT scanner. You will be asked to remain as still as possible and to hold your breath for short periods of time. You may hear buzzing or whirring noises. Most scans take between 5-30 minutes. 

For a CTA, IV contrast will be injected in your arm as part of the scan. 

Associated Risks

Complications are rare. If a contrast is used, some people may have an allergic reaction, but it is unlikely. Pregnant women should not have a CT scan.

If you have any questions or concerns about your CT scan or CTA, be sure to talk to your doctor.

Find an Imaging Location Near You

Whatever your need, your doctor can refer you to one of our conveniently located free-standing imaging centers or one of our hospitals.