Reasons Why Your Doctor Might Recommend a CT Scan

Reasons Why Your Doctor Might Recommend a CT Scan | Catalina Imaging

A CT scan is a medical imaging procedure that combines a series of X-rays taken from different angles to create a highly detailed image of the soft tissues, blood vessels, and bones inside your body. 


A CT scan machine is well suited for diagnosing diseases and injuries because it provides detailed images. However, it is particularly useful to ER doctors who need to examine traumatic accident victims quickly. 


Why Would Your Doctor Order a CT Scan? 

With the proliferation of medical imaging machines like MRI, ultrasound, and bone scan, you might wonder why your doctor still recommends a CT scan. 

To better help you understand the benefits of a CT scan, we list some of the most common reasons why your doctor might recommend this medical imaging procedure. 


It is a better option than magnetic resonance imaging or MRI in some situations. 

While MRIs and CT scans are almost similar, there are reasons why MRI is not an ideal procedure. For instance, patients with cochlear implants, implanted pacemakers, and intracranial aneurysm clips can’t have this procedure that involves the use of strong magnets. 

Also, CT scans are shorter and less noisy than MRIs, which emit a banging sound because of the metal coils vibrating during the procedure. 


You have soft tissue damage. 

Compared to traditional X-rays, CT scans provide a crispier, more detailed image of the soft tissue around the bones. And with better images, your doctor can provide a more accurate diagnosis and ultimately a more effective treatment and recovery plan. 


You have a certain type of vascular disease. 

While ultrasound can be used to examine your blood vessels, sometimes their results are inconclusive when it comes to aneurysms, which makes CT scans a better option.

CT scans can also replace surgical biopsy and exploratory surgery, allowing doctors to examine your blood vessels without resorting to surgical procedures. 


You have bone injuries affecting small components. 

If you have bone injuries in your spinal area, hands, feet, and other “small components,” CT scan is a better option than X-rays which may not provide the same level of accuracy. 


You need a bone scan. 

CT scan machines can evaluate your bone density and ultimately determine if you have osteoporosis, which stems from a lifelong lack of calcium. 

CT scans can also diagnose osteoporosis-related fractures that commonly occur in the wrist, spine, and hip. 


You are receiving chemotherapy. 

Cancer patients routinely undergo CT scans to determine if their tumors respond to radiation treatments used to kill cancerous tumors. These machines can also show doctors the tumor’s size and shape. 


You need tumor surgery. 

Before surgery, your specialists may recommend a CT scan alongside biopsy to help them confirm the presence of a tumor and learn about its exact location, shape, and size. The images from the CT scan can also help them examine the tissue surrounding the tumor. 


You just had a traumatic accident. 

While MRIs and CT scans have almost the same functions, CT scans are a better imaging tool in emergencies such as a car collision and slip and fall accident in which doctors need to detect internal injuries quickly to save their patients. 


You need your brain examined. 

Brain CT scans are used to evaluate the presence of mass, tumor, ischemic process (like stroke), fluid collection, hemorrhage, and trauma. Compared to standard X-rays of the head, these machines provide more detailed information about the brain structure and its soft tissue. 

CT scans for the brain usually take between 15 and 30 minutes. 


Related article: Managing Claustrophobia and Anxiety During Your CT Scan


To learn more about CT scans, contact Catalina Imaging at (844) 949-1664 or email them at They provide a mobile CT scan fleet for medical facilities in California, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Illinois

Managing Claustrophobia and Anxiety During Your CT Scan

Managing Claustrophobia and Anxiety During Your CT Scan | anxious child before CT Scan | blog article by Catalina Imaging

Some patients experience signs of claustrophobia during their CT scan, MRI, and or certain types of imaging procedures that require them to lay still in a confined space. Fortunately, there are ways to eliminate or at least minimize their level of anxiety. 


Coping with Scan Anxiety and Managing Claustrophobia
Coping with Scan Anxiety and Managing Claustrophobia

What Is Claustrophobia? 

This type of anxiety disorder results in intense, irrational fear in tight spaces such as elevators, crowded rooms, and medical imaging machines like MRIs and CT scans. Experts suggest that it might stem from traumatic events like experiencing turbulence when flying or being trapped in an enclosed area like cabinets.

Meanwhile, some psychiatrists believe that claustrophobia or any intense, irrational phobia might be related to dysfunction of the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls how you process fear. 


Claustrophobia is Different for Everyone 

As with any type of phobia, claustrophobia is different for anyone in terms of the level of intensity, ranging from mild nervousness to a full-blown panic attack in which the symptoms are almost similar to heart attacks: shortness of breath, numbness of feet and hands, dizziness, fainting, choking sensation, chest pain, trembling, and heart palpitations. 

Some people who have experienced extreme symptoms of claustrophobia describe the feeling as if they’re going to die or the world is going to end. 

Interestingly, many people with claustrophobia know that their intense fear is irrational.

Aside from symptoms and intensity, the triggers also differ from person to person. For instance, some may feel extreme anxiety when riding in an elevator, although plane travel is a “tolerable” experience for them. In contrast, some people can’t travel via aircraft or boat because of their intense phobia, but for some reason, they only experience mild [and manageable] anxiety when using an elevator or being in a small crowded room.


Why Imaging Procedures Might Trigger Claustrophobia 

CT scans, MRIs, and bone scans require enclosed or semi-enclosed medical imaging machines to capture images of the area of concern. Due to the tight space, some patients may experience high levels of anxiety and fear, making it difficult for them to stay still.

It is important to stay perfectly still during medical imaging because even the slightest movement can blur the image. Some machines like CT scans of the abdomen and chest even require patients to hold their breath between 10 and 25 seconds. 

Aside from the tight space, intense anxiety during a medical imaging procedure may also stem from the loudness or “weird” beeping sound of the machine. Some claustrophobic patients have also reported fear of being injured or suffocated during their CT scans or MRIs. 

Some patients have also experienced high anxiety levels after the procedure as they wait for their test results. 


How to Reduce Scan-Related Anxiety 

The list below could provide a better patient experience: 


Mild sedatives 

 If you have a history of anxiety disorder or have claustrophobia, your doctor might recommend a mild sedative to help you stay relaxed during your medical imaging procedure. Sometimes, medications are prescribed alongside a psychotherapy treatment. 

Drugs that may be used right before a medical imaging procedure include beta-blockers, Benzodiazepines, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. 


Soothing music 

If you’re having an MRI scan, you can ask your technician to play a soothing playlist. (Note: MRI machines are particularly loud, which may bother some patients.)


Consider Alternatives 

If you are bothered by the banging noise from MRI machines, you may want to ask your doctor if a CT scan is a good alternative. 

Aside from being shorter and less noisy than MRIs, CT scans are better at providing accurate images that can help your doctor diagnose your injury or disease more easily. 

On the other hand, if your main concern is the tight space, ask your doctor if you can have an ultrasound or an open upright MRI instead. 


Final Thoughts on Anxiety Management During Your CT Scan

Good communications between technologists and patients also play a critical role in reducing anxiety and symptoms of claustrophobia. In general, people who receive specific details (e.g., how long the test will take and how it will be like) will have a better experience than those left in the dark. 

To learn more about better patient experience during a medical imaging procedure, contact Catalina Imaging at (844) 949-1664 or email them at They have mobile CT scans in multiple locations like California, North Carolina, Illinois, and Minnesota.

Medical Imaging for Heart Disease

Medical Imaging for Heart Disease |blog article by Catalina Imaging

In the past, medical imaging to detect heart disease involved expensive and less accurate procedures. Some methods like treadmill stress testing are not recommended or even dangerous for some patients, particularly those with unstable heart failure, symptomatic severe aortic stenosis, and uncontrolled arrhythmia. 


But with the advancement in medical imaging, today’s patients have more options, most of which are safer, more accurate, and even cheaper. 


New imaging technologies that can help doctors diagnose heart disease include the following: 

  • Modern CT Scans
  • PET combined with CT Scan
  • Three-dimensional echocardiography, which is also called 3D echo
  • Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI 


Modern CT Scans

Modern CT scanners can perform a procedure called computed tomography angiography or CTA, which is notable for its accuracy (up to 95%) when detecting small blockages in coronary arteries. The imaging technology also allows doctors to rule out congenital abnormalities and severe heart and artery disease. 


CTA is also significantly less invasive than older techniques like the cardiac cath that involves inserting a long, thin tube called catheter into an artery or vein in the neck, groin, or arm to access the heart. 


In essence, CT scanners are like X-ray machines that provide better imaging. Before the procedure, a contrast dye is injected into the patient’s arm so the scanner, which looks like a giant donut, can take multiple images to create a more detailed impression of the heart and its blood vessels. 


PET Combined with CT Scan

Positron emission tomography or PET scan is an imaging procedure that uses a radioactive substance to detect poor blood flow, buildup of substances in the heart muscle, and other abnormalities in the heart. And when combined with modern CT scanner, the imaging technique can assess not just the heart anatomy but also its function. 


MRI Heart Scan

Compared to earlier medical imaging technologies to detect heart diseases, MRI heart scanners provide more detailed images that can help doctors evaluate the heart structure and function. 


MRI is particularly useful when it comes to showing valve disease, the heart’s overall appearance (volume, shape, and size), tumors, blood clots, and other abnormalities the older imaging technologies may not detect easily. 


While MRI does not use radiation, it relies on powerful magnets to create detailed images. For this reason, the imaging technique is not performed on patients with a defibrillator or pacemaker. 


Nowadays, MRIs come in two versions: open and closed. Open MRI scanners were initially developed to accommodate people with claustrophobia, although they are not an option for medical imaging for heart disease because the organ is in constant motion. 



Echocardiography uses high-frequency sound waves called ultrasound to evaluate the valves and heart muscle. Just like in a prenatal ultrasound, it uses a wand-like device that transmits sound waves against the chest area, producing moving images of the heart. 


Because the imaging technology does not use any contrast medium or radiation, it can be performed multiple times without predisposing patients to risk of complications. 


The list below explains the three types of echo test used today:  

  • Three-dimensional echo. This provides multiple ultrasound images of the heart, allowing cardiologists to see a complete image of the heart in motion. Due to its accuracy, it is ideal for evaluating the heart muscle function and its valves. 
  • Portable echo. This inexpensive laptop-sized echo machine is commonly used by paramedics and emergency physicians. 
  • Intracardiac echo. It is used during a cardiac cath procedure in which a long, thin tube is inserted and threaded through the heart to perform surgeries such as closing a hole, opening a narrow valve with a balloon-like device, etc.


Final Word on Imaging for the Heart 

The best imaging procedure for the heart boils down to the symptoms, the patient’s medical condition, and the use of adjunct treatments. To learn more about the topic, contact Catalina Imaging at (844) 949-1664 or


Catalina Imaging is one of the leading CT mobile imaging providers in the country, serving hospitals and other healthcare facilities in California, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Illinois.