Frequently, physicians will order a computerized axial tomography, CAT or CT scan to evaluate for various diseases.
In our practice, CT scans are usually used as part of the evaluation for hematuria (blood in the urine), recurrent urinary tract infections, pelvic or abdominal pain, and when following patients with stone disease or cancers of the urinary tract. CT scans have changed such that the study can be performed very quickly, sometimes in only 3-5 minutes. The X-ray images obtained give a cross-section view of the part of the body being evaluated much like slicing a loaf of bread. These images can be manipulated by the computer associated with the CT scanner giving amazing detail of individual organ systems. The study is performed both with and without intravenous (in the veins) contrast and/oral contrast. If intravenous contrast is used, the patient will be asked to undergo bloodwork to evaluate kidney function. In patients with poor kidney function, the contrast used can transiently worsen kidney function.
Most often, we obtain non-contrast CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis to screen for kidney and ureteral stones, tumors and abnormalities of kidney, ureter and bladder anatomy. This is often called a “stone protocol CT scan”. This does not require bloodwork or IV placement at the imaging center. We can often see the images on computers in our office prior to the time the radiologists reads the images. We usually send our patients to Southwest Diagnostic Imaging ( www.swdic.com ) CT scans and other imaging studies. Please call our office or Southwest Diagnostic Imaging for further information.