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Computed tomography, limited or localized follow-up study

CPT4 code

Name of the Procedure:

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan, Limited or Localized Follow-Up Study

Summary

A CT scan is an imaging procedure that uses X-rays to create detailed pictures of structures inside the body. A limited or localized follow-up CT scan focuses on a specific area previously identified for further examination.

Purpose

This procedure addresses the need to monitor changes in a known medical condition or evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. The goal is to obtain precise images to guide further medical decisions.

Indications

  • Monitoring the progress of known tumors or lesions
  • Assessing the effectiveness of ongoing treatments
  • Evaluating abnormal findings detected in prior imaging tests
  • Investigating localized pain or symptoms that suggest changes in a specific area

Preparation

  • Fasting may be required for a few hours before the scan if a contrast dye will be used.
  • Patients should inform their doctor about any medications and allergies.
  • Removal of any metal objects to avoid interference with image clarity.
  • Blood tests might be conducted to ensure kidney function is normal if contrast dye is used.

Procedure Description

  1. The patient lies on a motorized table that slides into the CT scanner, a large doughnut-shaped machine.
  2. A technician positions the patient to focus on the area of interest.
  3. Images are taken in slices, and the patient may be asked to hold their breath momentarily.
  4. If contrast dye is needed, it is injected intravenously to enhance image clarity.
  5. The scanner takes multiple X-ray images from different angles, which are then compiled into cross-sectional views by a computer.

Duration

Typically, the procedure takes about 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the specific area being scanned and whether contrast dye is used.

Setting

The procedure is performed in a hospital radiology department or an outpatient imaging center.

Personnel

  • Radiology technician to operate the CT scanner
  • Radiologist to interpret the images
  • Nurses, if intravenous contrast dye is used
  • In some cases, a physician overseeing the procedure

Risks and Complications

  • Exposure to a low level of ionizing radiation
  • Allergic reactions to contrast dye (rare)
  • Potential kidney function issues related to contrast dye (rare)
  • Minor bruising or discomfort at the IV site, if applicable

Benefits

  • Provides detailed images for accurate diagnosis and monitoring
  • Non-invasive with minimal discomfort
  • Quick procedure with immediate results available for review

Recovery

  • Usually, no recovery time is needed; patients can return to normal activities immediately.
  • If contrast dye was used, drinking plenty of fluids helps flush it from the body.
  • Follow-up appointments may be scheduled to discuss the results and next steps.

Alternatives

  • Ultrasound: Less detailed but avoids radiation exposure.
  • MRI: Highly detailed for soft tissues but more expensive and not suitable for all patients (e.g., those with metal implants).
  • Traditional X-rays: Limited detail and not as comprehensive for soft tissues.

Patient Experience

  • The patient will feel minimal discomfort lying still on the table.
  • Mild warmth or metallic taste if contrast dye is used.
  • Generally painless, with some possible anxiety from being in the scanner.
  • Comfort measures include communication with the technician and listening to music in some facilities.

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