Computed Tomography (CT)
CT Scans in Jackson Hole
A traditional CT scan is an x-ray procedure that uses special computers
to display detailed images of x-rays. CT scans are very safe and come
with very few risks. The images produced give radiologists a detailed
view of body tissue, bone, and blood vessels. The results can not only
help doctors diagnose disease, but also provide a clear view of internal
injuries and the extenuating damage.
St. John's Medical Center uses the Toshiba Aquilion ONE, the world’s
first dynamic volume CT scanner. With 320 detector row coverage, the Aquilion
ONE has the ability to scan an entire organ in a single rotation, meaning
tests go faster and expose patients to less radiation. The Aquilion ONE
reduces costs by replacing several exams with one, making this powerful
diagnostic test more available to a wide variety of people.
In addition to standard CT scans, St. John’s performs specialized
cardiac CT angiography scans and Calcium-score screening heart scans,
which you can learn more about below.
Cardiac CT Angiography
A cardiac CT test combines advanced CT technology with intravenous (IV)
contrast (dye) to visualize your cardiac anatomy, coronary circulation,
and blood vessels. St. John's state-of-the-art Aquilion One CT scanner
acquires high-resolution three-dimensional images of the moving heart
and great vessels. With these images, a doctor can evaluate your heart
muscle, arteries, veins, aorta, and other cardiovascular components.
Test Preparation – To prepare for the test you will need to avoid caffeinated drinks,
energy and diet pills, and certain medications the day before and of the
exam. Let your doctor know if you are pregnant, what medications you’re
taking, and whether or not you have recently undergone radiation therapy.
The Test – You will not need to do much during the test. A special contrast will be
administered via an IV while you lie on a table with electrodes attached
to your chest. The table will slide into a tube-shaped scanner, which
takes images of the areas highlighted by the contrast material in your
body. The actual scan only lasts a few seconds, and the procedure as a
whole will take about 45 minutes.
Once the test has ended you may return home and resume normal activities
and diet. Your physician will reach out to you after the radiologist has
analyzed the test results. Together you will come up with a plan for treating
any heart conditions diagnosed from the test.
Calcium-Score Screening Heart Scan
Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of arteries from plaque buildup and a
main contributing factor to heart disease. A calcium-score screening heart
scan detects signs of coronary calcification from atherosclerosis. The
higher your calcium the more serious your case of atherosclerosis, meaning
you have a greater risk of suffering heart disease.
Your doctor may recommend this test if you have other risk factors for
heart disease, such as a sedentary lifestyle or history of smoking. This
is one of the most effective means of detecting heart disease before symptoms
develop. Please be aware that while it is very effective, there are certain
forms of plaque that cannot yet be detected with this technology. Do not
assume that a low calcium score means you are risk-free for heart disease.
Test Preparation – Prior to the test, a blood lipid analysis by our specialized laboratories
is recommended. This test can be obtained on the day of your exam and
requires you to fast for 12 hours prior to the exam. You may take your
medications as usual with sips of water.
- CT scanners expose patients to small doses of radiation. The minimal exposure
is safe for both adults and children, but a developing fetus might suffer
damage and this procedure is not recommended if you are pregnant. Please
inform your doctor if you have recently received radiation therapy so
that they can be sure your exposure falls within safe parameters.
The Test – Before the test, you will fill out a brief questionnaire that
contributes your doctor’s analysis of your heart disease risks.
After that comes a quick series of physical tests that record your height,
weight, and blood pressure. When that is finished you will be given appropriate
clothing and asked to lay down on a scanning table which slides into the
actual scanner. The technologist will attach three electrodes onto your
chest before moving you into the scanner and having multiple images taken.
A CT computer is used to synchronize images with your heartbeat.
The test only lasts a few minutes and you may resume normal activities
afterward. If calcium is identified during the scan, the computer will
create a calcium score that estimates the extent of coronary artery disease.
Your doctor will contact you later with your calcium score, and together
you can work on a plan to reduce your risk of heart disease.