Diagnostic Tests and Descriptions
CT scanning is fast, painless, and simple and involves little radiation exposure. If contrast material is injected, patients may experience a warm, flushed sensation or experience a metallic taste in their mouth for a few minutes. The CT scanner is a large, square machine with a donut-like hole in the center. The patient lies on a table that can move up or down and slides into and out of the center of the hold. The patient''s body may be supported by pillows to help hold it still and in the proper position during the scanning process. Inside the machine, an x-ray tube on a rotating gantry moves around the patient''s body to produce the images, making clicking and whirring sounds as the gantry moves. A CT scan usually takes from 15 minutes to 30 minutes; a CT exam of the head and brain can take between 10 and 45 minutes. -- Neurosury.org: On-Call
MRI like the CT scanner, MRI is a diagnostic technique that produces images of the brain, but unlike the CT scanning, MRI does not use x-rays. Instead MRI uses radio signals and a very powerful magnet to scan the patient's body, and the signals are then formed into pictures by a computer. MRI is a painless procedure and has no known side effects. As with CT scanning, small children are given a sedative before MRI to minimize movement that would cause blurring of the images.
CT and MRI scans only illustrate anatomy and cannot prove a patient's source of pain. In some cases, discs may appear abnormal on MRI or CT scans but not be the source of pain. A discogram can help identify discs that cause pain and help the neurosurgeon plan the correct surgery. A negative discogram can help avoid surgery that may not be beneficial. Because of the nature of the test, discography is usually done only if the patient's pain is significant enough to consider surgery.-- Neurosury.org: On-Call
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