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Cranial CT Scan: why have it done?

The TC (also Known as CAT) It’s a minimally invasive and painless radiological procedure that utilizes ionizing radiation (X-rays) and provides highly detailed three-dimensional images of the cranial bones, brain, and the blood vessels that supply it.

It is widely used in neurological, traumatological, oncological, gynecological, and cardiological fields. This procedure can diagnose bone damage, circulatory malfunctions, strokes, various pathologies, and tumors.

Brain CT scans also provide valuable information for treatments such as biopsies or surgical interventions. This examination also finds application in the post-operative phase, making it a versatile tool useful in diagnosis, intervention, and follow-up.

With this type of analysis, we investigate and evaluate a series of pathologies or injuries related to the head and brain. In particular, with brain CT scans, we can study and explore various situations:

  • Strokes or other vascular lesions
  • Traumas, hemorrhages, or bone fractures
  • Benign or malignant brain neoplasms
  • Dementia
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Congenital malformations of the cranial bones or the cerebral vascular system
  • Headaches, dizziness, behavioral changes

Head CT scans are also very useful as a guide in planning radiotherapy in cases of brain tumors. In the case of strokes, it is useful to distinguish between cerebral ischemia (lack of blood access to the brain) and cerebral hemorrhage (rupture of a brain artery with bleeding). It can also be performed as a planning tool for facial surgery.

Preparation guidelines: how a brain CT scan is performed

Before starting the process, it is very important to follow a precise preparation procedure. The patient is required to remove any metallic objects (earrings, necklaces, bracelets, piercings) and undergo a quick measurement of blood pressure and temperature. The crucial aspect of this type of examination is the absolute immobility of the patient during the execution phase. This includes holding one’s breath, as even slight movements due to breathing could skew the results of the examination.

Once the preliminary phase is completed, the patient is positioned on the sliding bed with arms extended behind the head. In the case of a contrast-enhanced brain CT scan, the patient is administered an iodine-based solution to absorb the radiation during the examination. Afterward, it is necessary to wait a few minutes for the solution to distribute correctly in various anatomical areas of the body. The administration mode can be through injection.

At this point, the patient is introduced into the gantry, the radioactive source, and the medical staff positions themselves in an adjacent room from which they can monitor the images during the examination and assist the patient if necessary via a speaker.

Once the collection of images useful for diagnostic evaluation is completed, the doctor stops the scan, and the patient is removed from the gantry. Subsequently, the patient is free to return to their daily activities, unless otherwise indicated by the radiologist.

Brain CT scan: with or without contrast. What’s the difference?

Brain CT scans can be performed in two modes:

  • CT scan with contrast
  • Conventional CT scan (without contrast)

A contrast-enhanced brain CT scan is performed when it is necessary to further investigate the condition and behavior of the cerebral vascular system, typically used as a tool to study blood circulation in a patient with an aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation. In this case, the patient is administered a fluid solution containing iodine to highlight and differentiate anatomical parts such as arteries, veins, lymph nodes, and any benign or malignant tumor masses.

This type of analysis takes about 35 minutes and requires precise preparation and the maximum immobility of the patient. Before performing this type of procedure, it is advisable for the patient to undergo a blood test to exclude any form of allergy to the dose of ionizing radiation they will be exposed to during the examination. This procedure allows for high-quality images to be obtained and therefore very precise diagnoses to be established. However, it is contraindicated in cases of pregnancy, obesity, renal insufficiency, and diabetes.

Brain CT scans require precise preparation; indeed, the patient must follow a strict fasting period of at least 6 hours before the analysis. At the end of the procedure, it is necessary to wait a few minutes in the radiology department to monitor any onset of allergic reactions. In order to facilitate the elimination of the contrast medium, it is advisable to drink plenty of fluids in the hours following the examination.

Conventional CT scans, or CT scans without contrast, differ from the previous one in that they do not require special preparation and do not involve the administration of contrast medium. They have a shorter duration, typically between 10 and 20 minutes. Unlike contrast-enhanced CT scans, conventional CT scans do not require any waiting period after the examination and do not require any particular precautions post-examination.

Brain CT scan, Brain CT, Head CT: what’s the difference?

In recent years, advances in technology have significantly improved this type of diagnostic imaging. This has led to a modification regarding the name by which computed tomography is referred to, now known as CT instead of CT. However, the new acronym CT has not yet become part of common language usage; in fact, we are used to recognizing it by the term CT (Computerized Axial Tomography).

Thanks to new technologies, we have moved from an examination conducted with a single axis (axial, precisely) to one with multi-slice machines that allow for three-dimensional images to be obtained (across multiple levels and not just on a single axis). From this, we can state that, despite still being widely used in common parlance, the term CT is to be considered improper and obsolete.

Consequently, Brain CT scan, Brain CT, and Head CT are synonyms and indicate the same type of diagnostic imaging. The only difference is that the term CT refers to a less advanced technology, although it has remained in common usage and is still used today to refer to new tomographic investigations.

Brain CT scans at MiniHospital

At MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini,” brain CT scans are performed using state-of-the-art equipment, specifically a 128-slice CT scanner. This highly advanced revolutionary instrument stands out because it allows for the acceleration of the scanning process, reconstruction of images, and above all, high-quality examinations to be performed with a low dose of radiation administered to the patient.

To undergo a brain CT scan, booking is mandatory. To make an appointment, you can send an email to, call our secretary at 0587.609134, or fill out the form below.

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