A computerized tomography (CT) scan is a medical imaging technique that combines a series of X-rays to produce in-depth images of body parts. Contrary to popular belief, doctors do not use a CT scan to diagnose migraine. However, they may order a CT scan to help identify any underlying conditions that may be causing a person’s headache or migraine attack.
How does a CT scan work?
- If you get a shot of contrast material, you may feel flushed, or you may have a metallic taste in your mouth. These are common reactions. If you have shortness of breath or any unusual symptoms, tell the person who’s giving you the test — the technologist.
- The technologist will help you lie in the correct position on the examining table. The table will then automatically move into place for imaging. It’s very important that you lie as still as possible during the procedure. Movement could blur the images.
- The technicians may ask you to hold your breath briefly at some points when they’re taking the X-ray images.
What can a CT scan do?
The test can help your doctor rule out other causes of your pain, such as:
- A brain tumor
- An infection of the brain, called an abscess
- The buildup of fluid in the brain, a condition called hydrocephalus
- A sinus blockage
- A bulging, weak part of a brain artery, called an aneurysm, or bleeding in the brain
- Family history
See your healthcare provider right away if:
- You suddenly develop a very severe headache which feels like something is bursting inside your head.
- Your headaches are different from other headaches you’ve had, especially if you are age 50 or older.
- Your headaches happen after you have been physically active.
- You have headaches with other serious symptoms, such as a loss of control, a seizure or fit, or a change in speech or alertness.
What are the risks of a CT scan?
A CT scan of the head uses a low radiation dose. This may slightly increase the risk of harmful effects such as cancer. Risks from radiation exposure may add up, so it is best to avoid unnecessary radiation.
A CT scan itself is painless. To get the scan, you’ll lie on a table. You may get a shot of “contrast material” into one of your veins, which will help doctors see parts of your brain more clearly on the image. Some patients may feel discomfort inside a CT scanner, especially if they experience claustrophobia in enclosed spaces.
Be sure to tell the doctor or nurse if you’ve had an allergic reaction to contrast material in the past. Your doctor will also need to check your kidney function before using contrast. Contrast dyes have iodine, which can cause a reaction in some people.
The results of your CT scan or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may also be unclear. This can lead to more tests and even treatment that you do not need. In most cases, a headache can be treated without scans or invasive procedures. Your healthcare provider can also advise you on how best to treat your headache.
To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.