A Closer Look at a Spinal CT Scan With Valley Radiology

A spinal CT scan can be crucial in providing detailed and cross-sectional spine images, allowing healthcare professionals to accurately assess the spine's structural integrity, identify abnormalities, and pinpoint the source of back pain. 

If you or a loved one experiences persistent back or spinal pain, a CT scan of the spine may be recommended for further evaluation and accurate diagnosis.

Continue reading to learn more about CT scans of the back. 

When is a CT Scan of the Spine Recommended?

A spinal CT scan is often recommended based on a patient's specific symptoms, medical history, and clinical findings. The scan allows for detailed visualization of the spinal structures, assisting in accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of spinal conditions.

A CT scan of the spine may be used for:

  • Back pain evaluation and diagnosis
  • For neurological symptoms like weakness, numbness, or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Preoperative planning
  • Monitoring diagnosed spinal conditions
  • Suspected infections or inflammation 
  • Evaluation of spinal tumors

It is also important to note that after a significant injury or accident involving the spine, a CT scan of the back may be necessary to assess potential fractures or other damage to spinal structures.

What Does a CT Scan of the Back Show?

A CT scan of the back, or spinal CT scan, provides detailed images of the spine and surrounding structures. 

The intricate images show a complete picture of the spinal bones, discs, and alignment.

A spinal CT scan can also show fractures, nerve compression, tumors, and infections. It is a valuable diagnostic tool for the treatment planning of various back conditions and injuries.

Is a CT Scan for Back Pain Beneficial?

Yes, a CT scan can be beneficial in diagnosing the underlying cause of back pain.

When a person experiences severe or persistent back pain, and the cause remains unclear, a CT scan of the back can reveal potential issues like spinal fractures, herniated discs, or spinal stenosis.

A CT scan of the spine aims to get to the root cause of your back pain so that you can receive the treatment you need sooner.

How Do I Prepare for a CT Scan of My Back?

Before your spinal CT scan, it is essential to adhere to the specific instructions provided by your doctor or interventional radiologist. 

In general, remember these steps:

  • Notify your healthcare team about allergies or past CT scan contrast dye reactions.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Remove all jewelry.
  • Inform the technologist of any permanent metal implants or devices in your body.
  • Inform them if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • If you experience anxiety or claustrophobia, seek support during the procedure without hesitation.

Is a CT Spine Scan Administered With Or Without Contrast?

A spinal CT scan can be completed with or without contrast, depending on the specific information the healthcare provider aims to gather from the diagnostic test.

A non-contrast CT scan of the back involves acquiring spine images without using contrast dye. This type of scan is typically used to evaluate bony structures, such as vertebrae and intervertebral discs. It helps identify fractures, degenerative changes, spinal alignment issues, and other bone-related abnormalities.

Contrast-enhanced CT scans of the spine involve the injection of an iodine-based contrast dye. The contrast dye helps highlight blood vessels and soft tissues. This type of scan is beneficial in assessing soft tissue abnormalities, such as tumors, infections, abscesses, or nerve compression caused by herniated discs or other conditions.

The decision to administer a CT scan of the back with or without contrast depends on the patient's specific symptoms, medical history, and the suspected underlying condition.

CT Scan of the Lumbar or Thoracic Spine: Experience the Difference with Valley Radiology

At Valley Radiology, we prioritize delivering precise and reliable imaging results to support your health and wellness goals.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms related to your back, a CT scan of the lumbar or thoracic spine can be crucial in identifying the underlying cause and providing the necessary treatment you need.

Your health is of utmost importance to us.

Please note that a doctor’s referral is required for a spine MRI. If you believe you’re a candidate for one, we encourage you to contact your primary care provider or spine specialist directly.

For all other MRI-related questions, please contact us online today.