Head Computed Tomography Scanning Technique

Updated: Dec 29, 2020
  • Author: Djamil Fertikh, MD; Chief Editor: Caroline R Taylor, MD  more...
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Approach Considerations

Anesthesia is typically unnecessary with most CT scans.

The patient typically lies on his or her back with head in the midline position on a movable table that slides into and out of the doughnut hole. An x-ray tube typically rotates around the patient's head. The table will gradually move during the CT data acquisition. It is important to keep the head very still during the examination to avoid any motion artifact, and the technologist may gently wrap the head with Velcro bands to a stabilizing head rest.

Care is usually taken to avoid scanning the ocular globes to minimize potential cataract, which is achieved by appropriate head positioning such that the scans are obtained parallel to the skull base.

Disposable bismuth shields may also be used to protect the lenses.

The patient is typically monitored in real time by the CT technologist. During the test, the CT technologist and patient can communicate at any time using an intercom.

The CT technologists, using a special computer workstation, process the imaging data, which are then sent to a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) for a trained radiologist to interpret the images.

Depending on the CT scan results, one or many follow-up examinations may be necessary to evaluate an abnormality.