CT of Spine

What is a CT of the spine?

A computed tomography (CT) scan is a noninvasive exam that, compared with a standard X-ray, provides enhanced clarity and detail. Spine CT can be cervical (which provides images of your neck), thoracic (images of your upper back or your chest), or lumbar (your lower back).

Why has my physician ordered this exam?

Your physician may use this exam to help determine the presence and extent of a variety of spinal conditions. Spine CT is also used for postsurgical monitoring.

For patients in whom magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is contraindicated because they have aneurysm clips, metal implants, pacemakers, or pain stimulators, CT is a practical alternative.

  • Cervical spine CT can help detect and evaluate:
    • Neck injury
    • Cancer
    • Tumors
  • Thoracic spine CT can help detect and evaluate:
    • Injury to your chest or upper back, including the disks
    • Cancer
    • Tumors
  • Lumbar spine CT can help detect and evaluate:
    • Injury to your lower back, including the disks
    • Cancer
    • Tumors

Although IV iodinated contrast media is not usually necessary for this procedure, your physician may call for it to help monitor postsurgical changes and check for infection.

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