CT (computerized tomography) scans are very important in modern medicine. Through x-ray technology, they produce 2D images of a section of your body, with the data gathered being used to create a 3D image. Doctors use a CT scanner or a mobile CT scanner in order to see injuries or abnormalities inside the body.
When the patient suffers from a head injury, a CT scan can be used by a doctor in order to achieve a proper diagnosis. Fortunately, with most common hits to the head and even twisted necks, the injury is typically not severe. However, in some cases, a brain injury can happen, such as cracked skulls, bleeding or concussions.
Head injuries stand out as a very common reason why the emergency departments are visited. Health care providers need to examine such patients and a CT brain scan is sometimes ordered.
How Does A CT Scan Help for Head Injuries?
CT scans are helpful because they show if there is a skull fracture present or if internal bleeding is present. When a serious head injury is sustained, a doctor may first use the CT scan for diagnosis purposes. Essentially, the health care provider will check the patient to see how serious the injury is. In the event that there are signs of an even more serious problem, the CT scan helps by providing imagery of inside the patient’s head to see if this is actually the case.
When Are CT Scans Needed?
Usually, during the initial consultation, the doctor will check for the presence of different symptoms. If they are present, it might indicate that a serious problem exists and the CT scan is ordered. The most common symptoms that warrant a CT scan when associated with head injuries are:
- Reduced vision
- Severe headache
- Trouble hearing
- Trouble speaking
- Nonstop dizziness
- Differences in pupil sizes when comparing the patient’s eyes
- Skull tenderness
Are CT Scans Always Requested With Head Injuries?
Doctors only request CT scans for patients in the event that there is a need to confirm a more serious diagnosis. This is because the CT scanner uses x-rays for the creation of skull and brain images. These rays are a radiation form and radiation can increase cancer risk. Unnecessary radiation exposure needs to be avoided.
There are specific guidelines in place that the health care provider needs to respect. The CT scan is usually requested in the event that there is a possibility that the patient suffers from brain bleeding or there is a skull fracture.
The good news is that most people that have a head injury do not need a CT scan. Concussions are common and if they are simple (not severe), they won’t even show up in a CT scan.
In summary, the doctor will use the CT scan to see if there is something seriously wrong with the brain or the skull, following a head injury. Fortunately, in most situations, patients do not need to be exposed to CT scans and the radiation they generate and the injury is very easy to treat. Usually, with mild head injuries, rest is the only thing that is needed, in a combination with painkillers.
So, be cautious and don’t instantly think that a CT scan is necessary if you have experienced a head injury. Go to your physician for an expert opinion first, then they will request the CT scan for you.
Scott has been working in the radiology field for over 30 years. He finds the biological phenomenons found in humankind fascinating and appreciates the incredible use that diagnostic imagery has to save lives. Other than acting as the President for Catalina Imaging, Scott enjoys spreading the word on new insights and breakthroughs in the radiology field, specifically the impact that mobile imaging has for patient care.
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