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Your CT scan

Key summary points

  • If for any reason you feel that you may find it difficult to tolerate an CT scan, please discuss with one of the LBSM team. There are always other solutions and options we can work through together
  • After your scan, contact the LBSM team to book a follow up appointment with your doctor. Here you will receive and be able to discuss the results of your scan. (the interval between you scan and your appointment will have been discussed at your consultation)
  • The results of your scan automatically get sent to the LBSM team once processed, so no need to request them yourself (unless specifically asked to do so).

About your CT scan

Following your consultation at LBSM, you may have been referred for a computerised tomography (CT) scan.

This guide takes you through the relevant information about what to expect during this process. Please take the time to read it carefully.

After you have had your CT scan, you will have the opportunity to go through the results in detail with the clinical team and work out the next steps together.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries about anything to do with the process of getting your scan.

  1. Why do I need an CT scan?
  2. What is an CT scan?
  3. When CT scans are used
  4. How is a CT scan performed?
  5. Safety of CT scans

1. Why do I need a CT scan?

CT scans can give large amounts of detail into the anatomy of an injury/complaint that you have. From a sports medicine and injury point of view, they give particular detail around the anatomy of bones. They can also be used to grade the severity of your medical issue or to gain extra information.

Often, comparing information from a variety of imaging modalities, sometimes at different time intervals, can be really useful to understand the full context of the medical complaint and its progression. This additional information will help determine the next steps of your treatment plan and make sure you are on the correct rehabilitation path.

2. What is a CT scan? 

A computerised tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body.   

CT scans are sometimes referred to as CAT scans or computed tomography scans. 

They’re carried out in hospital by specially trained operators called radiographers, and can be done while you’re staying in hospital or during a short visit. 

3. When CT scans are used 

CT scans can produce detailed images of many structures inside the body, including the internal organs, blood vessels and bones. 

In the context of a sport medicine clinic, they are often used to look at bones in greater details, for example, identifying fractures.  

CT scans wouldn’t normally be used routinely to check for problems if you don’t have any symptoms (known as screening). This is because the benefits of screening may not outweigh the risks. 

4. How is a CT scan performed? 

Preparing for a CT scan 

If you need to do anything to prepare for your CT scan, it will be clearly discussed with you at your LBSM clinical appointment. 

You should also let the LBSM team and/or hospital know if you’re pregnant. CT scans aren’t usually recommended for pregnant women unless it’s an emergency, as there’s a small chance the X-rays could harm your baby. 

It’s a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothes as you may be able to wear these during the scan. 

Try to avoid wearing jewellery and clothes containing metal (such as zips), as these will need to be removed. 

Before having a CT scan 

Before having the scan, you may be given a special dye called a contrast to help improve the quality of the images.  

Your LBSM doctor will make it very clear if you need a CT scan with contrast dye, otherwise, please assume your CT scan is without contrast. 

This may be swallowed in the form of a drink, passed into your bottom (enema), or injected into a blood vessel. 

Tell the radiographer if you feel anxious or claustrophobic about having the scan. 

They can give you advice to help you feel calm and can arrange for you to have a sedative (medication to help you relax) if necessary. 

Before the scan starts, you may be asked to remove your clothing and put on a gown. 

You’ll also be asked to remove anything metal, such as jewellery, as metal interferes with the scanning equipment. 

What happens during a CT scan 

During the scan, you’ll usually lie on your back on a flat bed that passes into the CT scanner. 

The scanner consists of a ring that rotates around a small section of your body as you pass through it. 

Unlike an MRI scan, the scanner doesn’t surround your whole body at once, so you shouldn’t feel claustrophobic. 

ct scan 2 Your CT scan

The radiographer will operate the scanner from the next room. While the scan is taking place, you’ll be able to hear and speak to them through an intercom.

While each scan is taken, you’ll need to lie very still and breathe normally. This ensures that the scan images aren’t blurred.

You may be asked to breathe in, breathe out, or hold your breath at certain points.

The scan will usually take around 10 to 20 minutes.

What happens afterwards 

You shouldn’t experience any after-effects from a CT scan and can usually go home soon afterwards. You can eat and drink, go to work and drive as normal. 

If a contrast was used, you may be advised to wait in the hospital for up to an hour to make sure you don’t have a reaction to it. 

The contrast is normally completely harmless and will pass out of your body in your urine. 

Your CT scan now needs to be studied by a radiologist (a doctor trained in interpreting scans and X-rays) and possibly discussed with other specialists. This happens with 1-2 days but can occur on the same day if urgent.  

The radiologist will send a report to the LBSM doctor who arranged the scan, who will discuss the results with you and go through the images with you in detail. 

5. Safety of CT scans 

CT scans are quick, painless and generally safe. But there’s a small risk you could have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used and you’ll be exposed to X-ray radiation. 

The amount of radiation you’re exposed to during a CT scan varies, depending on how much of your body is scanned. 

CT scanners are designed to make sure you’re not exposed to unnecessarily high levels. 

Generally, the amount of radiation you’re exposed to during each scan is equivalent to between a few months and a few years of exposure to natural radiation from the environment. 

It’s thought exposure to radiation during CT scans could slightly increase your chances of developing cancer many years later, although this risk is thought to be very small (less than 1 in 2,000). 

For more information, read GOV.UK: patient dose information

The benefits and risks of having a CT scan will always be weighed up before it’s recommended. 

Talk to your doctor or radiographer about the potential risks beforehand if you have any concerns. 

Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries about the process of getting your scan, or the scan itself. Look forward to seeing you at your next appointment.  

The information in this article has been cited from www.nhs.uk to align with best clinical practice standards.

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    Orla Mulligan
    Administration and Social Media Manager
    Administration, LBSM

    Orla Mulligan is the administration and social media manager for LBSM. She has a strong background in sport having herself played netball at an elite standard for the U21s Northern Ireland team in the European Championships as well as the U21s competition for Saracen Mavericks.

    She understands youth sport pathways having herself played and training in the netball Kent regional pathway. She has a keen interest in most sports and a good understanding of how injury and illness can impact on the mind and body, as well as rehabilitation pathways.

    She looks forward to speaking and assisting LBSM patients and gives her best support to them during their treatment pathway.

    A day in the life of Orla involves communicating with patients via phone and email, managing and organising clinics, operations and media management.

    Outside of work, Orla is a gym enthusiast, enjoys tennis and still finds the time for an occasional game of netball.

    Maddie Tait
    BSc, MSc
    Associate, LBSM
    Musculoskeletal and Sports Podiatrist

    Maddie treats and manages complex foot and ankle injuries in London and Surrey.

    She is particularly interested in helping her patients improve their quality of life and achieve their personal goals, working closely with Foot and Ankle Consultants, Sports Medicine Doctors and Physiotherapists.

    Maddie has a sporting background herself having previously represented England in Hockey. She understands the demands of elite sport and the importance of physical and mental health. In her spare time, Maddie continues to enjoy an active lifestyle by running, cycling and attending a Pilates class.

    Having graduated from University of Brighton with a MSc (hons) in Podiatry, Maddie focused her career in Podiatric Sports Injuries and Biomechanics. Previously she completed a BSc (hons) in Sport Science at Loughborough University.

    A day in the life of Maddie involves consulting patients in clinic, performing gait and biomechanical assessments, measuring and fitting orthotics and braces. She also regularly teaches and presents at sports medicine and podiatry conferences.

    Outside of work, Maddie still finds time to play hockey and enjoys running and skiing.

    Mr Prakash Saha
    MBBS, PhD, FRCS
    Consultant Partner, LBSM
    Consultant in Vascular Surgery

    Mr Prakash Saha is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at LBSM. He takes pride in providing the best possible results for his patients by using the most appropriate non-surgical and surgical methods based on clinical evidence, patient results and satisfaction.

    He treats fit and active people suffering with a range of cardiovascular issues, from painful leg swelling associated with exercise to venous insufficiency, post-thrombotic syndrome and leg ulcers. He also treats people with arterial system problems including poor circulation, compression syndromes and aneurysms. He carries out both endovascular and open aortic repair and has some of the best outcomes in the country.

    Mr Saha studied medicine at the United Medical & Dental Schools at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals before completing his higher surgical training in London and the South East. During this time, he was awarded the prestigious NIHR Clinical Lectureship in Vascular Surgery at St. Thomas’ Hospital, giving him comprehensive training in open and endovascular techniques for treating arterial and venous disease. Prakash completed his aortic surgery training at the St. George’s Vascular Institute before carrying out a specialist fellowship at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney.

    Mr Saha regularly lectures and runs workshops across the globe on the latest surgical techniques to treat vascular disease. He has also been awarded a number of research grants from the Royal College of Surgeons, the Circulation Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the British Heart Foundation, which has led to over 80 publications and the development of innovative technologies to help treat patients. For this work, Prakash has received a number of prizes, including the Venous Forum prize from the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland, an International Young Investigator Award, and an Early Career Investigator Award from the American Heart Association.

    A day in the life of Mr Saha involves seeing patients in clinic, operating in surgical theatre or lecturing at his university. He also regularly teaches and presents at vascular and sports medicine conferences.

    Mr Saha is an avid cyclist and tennis player (although yet to get a set of Dr Seth!). Outside of work, he spends time with his family who consists of 3 children and enjoys travelling.

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran
    MBBS, FRCR
    Consultant Partner, LBSM
    Consultant in Sports and Musculoskeletal Radiology

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran is a Consultant Musculoskeletal Radiologist at LBSM, with an extensive background of working in elite sport. He is one of the most recognised radiologists in the sports medicine field. He provides top level imaging and medical diagnostic services for patients and athletes.

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran completed his undergraduate medical training at Imperial College London and his radiology training at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. He has obtained two post-CCT fellowships in musculoskeletal imaging. He was appointed as a consultant at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in 2011.

    He has a passion for all sports having worked as a radiologist at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and London World Athletic Championships and continues to support The Championships, Wimbledon. He also continues to work with a number of Premier League and Championship Football Clubs, Premier League Rugby Clubs, England Sevens Rugby, British Athletics and the Lawn Tennis Association.

    A day in the life of Dr Rajeswaran involves giving his expert opinion on investigations such as MRI and CT scans, x-rays and ultrasound. He also performs injection lists under ultrasound, CT and X-ray including spinal injections. He also regularly teaches and presents at sports medicine conferences.

    Dr Gajan Rajeswaran is an avid football fan and life-long fan of Tottenham Hotspur (for which he offers no apologies!). Outside of work, he spends time with his family and has a keen passion for photography.

    Dr Ajai Seth
    MBBS, BSc, MSc, MRCS, MRCGP, FFSEM
    Medical Director, LBSM
    Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine

    Dr Ajai Seth is a Sport and Exercise Medicine Physician. He has dedicated his career to helping people with sport and exercise related injury and illness. He consults and treats everyone from the elite athlete to the weekend warrior.

    Dr Ajai Seth is part of the British Tennis Sports Physician team at the LTA and has also provided cover to elite athletes at Wimbledon Tennis, European Tour Golf, Premier League Football, British Athletics, and the Men’s England Football academies as part of the FA.

    He also prides himself for working in disability sport and is currently the Chief Medical Officer for Team GB Wheelchair Tennis which has taken him to the Olympics and Paralympics.

    Dr Ajai Seth is dedicated to education, training and research and is a Senior Lecturer in Sports Medicine at King’s College London where he lectures in all aspects of Sports Medicine and Science.

    He also has a passion for travel and Expedition Medicine, which has seen him accompany medical, scientific and charity expeditions all around the world. He also has vast experience in treating musculoskeletal injuries from children and adolescents to veteran exercisers, both male and female.

    Dr Seth also has positions in leading Sport Medicine organisations, including the non-executive board for the UK’s largest Sports Medicine charity, BASEM and Past President for the Royal Society of Medicine. 

    A day in the working life of Dr Seth involves consulting his patients in clinic, performing diagnostics and ultrasound guided injections. He also regularly lectures and tutors students and presents at sports medicine conferences internationally. He also spends part of the working week at the National Tennis Centre, LTA, supporting British Tennis players.

    Outside of work, Dr Seth enjoys playing club tennis, triathlon, golf, running and skiing (but will give any sport a go!). He enjoys keeping fit and active and good quality family time with his wife and three children.