CT Scan and X-Ray Imaging


Beaumont is committed to providing the most convenient and highest quality CT scan X-ray imaging services for patients and their physicians. We offer:

  • ease of scheduling with same-day or next-day appointments
  • nine convenient imaging locations with CT in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
  • board certified Beaumont radiologists to interpret your results as if their life depended on it, too
  • the latest generation of imaging technology that produces the clearest images
  • highly trained technologists to ensure your comfort and safety
  • an integrated electronic medical records system that allows your physician to see your images within minutes of the test - and provides easy access to those images to other health care providers involved in your future care

What is a CT scan?

Computed tomography (CT or CAT scan) is a diagnostic imaging test that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to create cross-sectional images (often called slices), horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed medical images of the bones, muscles, fat, blood vessels and organs. As a result, CT scans are very detailed and help physicians diagnose many conditions that may not be as easily diagnosed with other imaging methods like X-ray or ultrasound.

Because a CT scan quickly produces detailed images, it is often used to:

  • study the chest, abdomen and pelvis because it provides detailed views of bone, tissue and blood vessels
  • examine the brain
  • diagnose and treat different cancers throughout the body
  • detect and diagnose vascular diseases that can lead to stroke, kidney failure and death
  • diagnose and treat joint, spinal and other skeletal conditions
  • image coronary arteries
  • identify traumatic injuries to internal organs, guide biopsies, plan for and assess surgeries, plan for radiation treatments
  • guide radiologists when performing biopsies or providing treatments

How does a CT scan work?

CT scans are performed on an outpatient basis or as a part of inpatient care. There are a few kinds of CT machines, but in general, they are large machines with a short, wide tunnel in the center that the patient enters for a brief time while lying comfortably on an exam table.

The CT scan uses X-ray beams, which are a form of radiation similar to light or radio waves. Here is how the CT scan works:

  • In a standard X-ray machine, the beam is focused on one part of the body. Behind the part of the body being studied is a plate that detects the radiation, which will produce an image. The CT scan uses X-ray imaging technology that is outfitted with a ring (called a gantry) that has several beams opposite matching detectors.
  • The gantry rapidly rotates around the body in a circular fashion as the patient on the table moves through the opening in the machine.
  • In fractions of a second, the detectors relay data back to a computer, which assembles the information to create two-dimensional, cross-sectional images of the body.
  • A radiologist (a board certified physician who specializes in reading images) creates a report and sends the information to your physician.

What will I experience during my CT scan at Beaumont?

At Beaumont, a CT scan generally follows this process:

  • Before you have any medical imaging procedure, you should discuss the risks and benefits associated with the test with your physician.
  • You will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the procedure. If you are asked to remove clothing, you will be given a gown to wear.
  • A radiology technologist will position you on the CT exam table. Likely, you will be lying flat on your back. Straps, foam braces or pillows may be used to help you maintain the correct position during the test.
  • The CT tech will be in another room where the scanner controls are located. However, you will be in constant sight of the tech through a window.
  • Speakers inside the scanner help the tech communicate with you. You will also have a call button to let the tech know if you have any problems during the test.
  • The table will move quickly through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for the scans. Then, the table will move slowly through the machine as the CT scanning is performed. The scanner may make clicking and whirring sounds, which are normal.
  • It is important that you remain still during the procedure.
  • Depending on the body part being scanned, you may be asked to hold your breath at various times during the medical imaging procedure.
  • If contrast is used for your procedure, you may have an initial set of scans before the contrast is injected through an intravenous line; a second set of scans will follow.
  • If contrast is used for your procedure, you may feel some effects when it is injected into the IV line. These effects include a flushing sensation, a salty or metallic taste in your mouth, a brief headache or nausea. These effects usually last for a few moments. You should notify the technologist if you feel any side effects.
  • When the examination is complete, you will be asked to wait until the tech verifies that the information is available for an accurate interpretation to be made.
  • If contrast was used during your procedure, you may be monitored for a short time for any side effects or reactions to it, such as itching, swelling or rash. If you are given contrast by mouth, you may experience slight diarrhea after the procedure.
  • Your Beaumont doctor will have access to the diagnostic images and the radiologist's interpretation and will share the results with you.

Preparing for a CT Scan

Imaging History Questionnaire (PDF)
For all patients receiving a CT exam with contrast

Imaging Procedure Safety Assessment (PDF)
For all females receiving an outpatient CT exam