A spine CAT or CT scan is a test conducted in order to study the insides of the spine with the help of x-ray equipment and computers. CT scans or Computed Tomography scans allow radiologists and doctors a detailed view of the area under study. CT scans are usually suggested as a diagnosis method to determine the causes behind symptoms experienced by a patient. Spine CAT scans are specifically used to determine diseases or disorders associated with the spine. Spine CAT scans are also known as CT scan lumbosacral spine, CT scan spinal cord, CT scan cervical spine and CT scan lumbar spine depending on the area under study.
The Lumbosacral spine scan is particularly used to study the lower spine and the surrounding tissues. A cervical spine CT scan is a specific scan of the vertebrae in the neck region while CT scan spinal cord records specific images relating to the spinal cord. A comprehensive view provided by the spine CAT scan allows the doctors to decide on the course of treatment accordingly. The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or MRI scan lumbar spine is an alternative to CT scan providing equally detailed results but CT scans are considered less sensitive to movement while scanning the body.
The spine comprises of 33 bones interlaced with discs that acts as cushions in between each bone. The spinal cord forms the centre, surrounded by the bones of the spine and a sac holding cereberospinal fluid. The spine is prone to disease and damage due to various reasons such as genetics, accidents, trauma and malformations. A spine CT scan helps provide insights to existing spine problems, gauge effectiveness of spine treatment or evaluate success of spine surgery. Spine CAT scans are usually suggested to determine possibility of herniated discs, osteoarthritis, pinched nerve, tumors, vertebral fracture, infections, cysts, metabolic diseases, narrowing of the spinal canal or deformities.
The spine CAT scan is a 30 - 60 minute test and requires you to lie on a table attached to a computer scanner. The table slides into a circular machine which scans the body while the computer records the scanned images to be stored or printed. The scanner rotates around your body scanning the images and you are required to stay still until advised to relax. A contrast dye may be used to get clear pictures. Such dye is usually injected in the arm. A spine CT scan is a non invasive and painless procedure. Some issues that must be discussed with your doctor before a scan are pregnancy, breast feeding, allergy to use of medication or dyes, history of kidney or diabetes problems, thyroid problems and any heart condition.