CT Neck without Contrast
CT (Computed Tomography) scan is an imaging modality that uses a series of X-rays taken from different angles and a computer to create cross-sectional images of internal body organs, bones, and soft tissues. Your Neck region starts from the bottom of your head up to the beginning of your chest. It has many important structures like salivary glands, thyroid, and parathyroid glands, muscles, Aorta and other blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and lymph nodes. A CT scan neck is used to visualize these structures for the presence of masses, inflammations, blood vessel problems, etc.
A contrast material is often used to enhance image quality, but it is not used in CT scans without contrast.
Why and when do you need this test?
Your doctor may advise this test if you have signs and symptoms related to the structures present in the neck. Or if he finds any abnormality on physical examination or other investigations.
Some of the indications for performing a CT scan neck may include the following;
- Trauma to the neck
- symptoms of Salivary gland infection, stones, or tumors
- Neck mass or abscess
- Foreign body
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Tumors or infections of the larynx and vocal cords.
- Thyroid/ parathyroid gland infections or tumors
- Vascular malformations
- Congenital anomalies
Do you need to prepare for the test?
- You can drink or normally eat unless advised by your doctor otherwise.
- Take advice from your doctor about your daily medications.
What can you expect?
- You will be asked to lie down on the table that will slide into the CT scan machine that looks like a large donut with a tunnel.
- You need to lie down still and not move to prevent the images from getting blurry.
- You will be alone in the room but under the constant care of a technician across the glass window who will be talking to you.
- It is a painless procedure that lasts for about 15-30 minutes but may take longer.
Are there any risks to this test?
It is a non-invasive test that uses low doses of X-rays that poses no risks unless you are pregnant. The radiation can harm the developing fetus. Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or have kidney disease.
What do the test results mean?
A radiologist who is an expert in interpreting CT scans will send a signed report to your doctor. Your doctor would be able to tell you if the report shows any abnormality that may be causing your symptoms.
Some of the abnormal results may include;
- Laryngotracheal injuries
- Parotid gland infection, stone, or tumor
- Mandibular gland infection, stone, or tumor
- Foreign bodies stuck in the upper airways
- Aortic dissection
- Retrosternal thyroid
- Thyroid gland infections
- Tumor of the thyroid/ parathyroid glands
Other related tests may include:
- MRI scan neck
- X-ray of the neck
- Ultrasound of the neck