CT scan of the pelvic region (bones, organs)

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Pelvic CT scan

A computed tomography (CT) scan of the pelvis is an imaging method that uses x-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of the so called the pelvic area (area between the hip bones) and the pelvic cavity.

CT scan of the pelvis is used for examine the contents of the pelvic organs for evidence of cancer, bleeding, and obstruction. Structures inside the pelvis cavity include the bladder, prostate and other male reproductive organs, female reproductive organs, lymph nodes, and pelvic bones. Sometimes pelvic CT scan performed in patients with abdominal CT.

Pelvic CT scans demonstrating bladder.

Remember, CT scans do expose you to more radiation than regular x-rays. Having many x-rays or CT scans over time may increase your risk of cancer. But the risk from any one scan is small. You and your doctor should weigh this risk against the benefits of getting a correct diagnosis for your medical condition.

CT images (slices) are stored on a computer, viewed on a monitor, printed on film or recorded on CD. 3D models of the body area can be created by stacking the slices together.

Pelvic CT scan is also performed to:

  • guide biopsies and other procedures ( abscess drainages, minimally invasive tumor treatments)
  • plan for and assess the results of surgery (organ transplants)
  • stage, plan and properly administer radiation treatments for tumors and monitor response to chemotherapy


How the pelvic CT scan is performed

Pelvic CT scan is performed in the radiology department scanning room. The patient lying flat (supine) on a CT table. The head is placed in a comfortable “docking pillow” and the CT scanner gantry (donut) passes over and around the patient to perform the scan. It travels over the patient from the iliac crest to the pubic symphysis to create the scan.

If necessary pelvic CT scan may be performed with oral and intravenous contrast. Sometimes this test performed in conjunction with abdominal CT.

The patient must be still during the exam, because movement causes blurred images and sometimes may be told to hold breath for short periods. The scan should take less than 30 minutes. Some people may have discomfort from lying on the hard table.

The patient is located on the back, the x-ray tube with sensors moves along the body and rotates around it, performing a scan.


Indications for pelvic CT scan

CT rapidly creates detailed pictures of the body, including the pelvis and areas near the pelvis. Pelvic CT scan may be used to diagnose or detect:

  • masses or tumors, including cancer (prostate or uterus)
  • the cause of chronic pelvic pain
  • injury to the pelvis (pelvic bones fractures, joints injuries)

Pelvic CT scan may also help:

  • as navigation to the right area during a biopsy or other procedures
  • for surgery planning
  • radiation treatment planning for cancer or other malignant


Pelvic CT scan results interpretation

Radiologist interprets Pelvic CT scans. Results are considered normal if the organs of the pelvis that are being examined are normal in appearance.

Information is highly detailed pertaining to solid and hollow organs in the pelvis. In addition, the integrity of the bony pelvis can be attained. The presence of tumor, inflammation, hemorrhage, stones and infection can be ascertained.

Abnormal results may be due to:

  • abscess (collection of pus)
  • bladder stones
  • broken bones
  • cancer or other malignant
  • • diverticulitis
The fourth stage of a bladder tumor in a man and a woman.


How to prepare for the pelvic CT scan

Certain exams require a special dye to be delivered into the body before the pelvic CT scan starts. The contrast media helps certain pelvic areas show up better on the x-rays. You may be asked to drink an oral contrast solution.

  • Contrast can be given through a vein (IV) in your hand or forearm. Or you may be asked to drink a liquid form of contrast. If contrast is used, you may also be asked not to eat or drink anything for 4 to 6 hours before the pelvic CT scan.
  • Let your doctor know if you have ever had a reaction to contrast. You may need to take medicines before the test in order to safely receive this substance.
  • Before receiving the contrast, tell your doctor if you take the diabetes medicine metformin (Glucophage) because you may need to take extra precautions.

Before receiving the contrast, tell your doctor if you have kidney problems. You may not be able to get IV contrast if this is the case.

Contrast given through an IV may cause a slight burning sensation, a metallic taste in the mouth, and a warm flushing of the body. These sensations are normal and most often go away within a few seconds.

If you weigh more than 130 kilograms, find out if the CT machine has a weight limit. Too much weight can damage the scanner's working parts.

You will be asked to remove jewelry and wear a hospital gown during the study.

Pelvic CT scans demonstrating ureter and bladder lesions.


Allergic reaction to contrast dye

Some people have allergies to contrast dye. Let your doctor know if you have ever had an allergic reaction to injected contrast dye. In rare cases, the dye causes a life-threatening allergic response called anaphylaxis. If you have any trouble breathing during the test, you should tell the scanner operator right away. Scanners come with an intercom and speakers, so the operator can hear you at all times.

  • The most common type of contrast given into a vein contains iodine. If a person with an iodine allergy is given this type of contrast, nausea or vomiting, sneezing, itching, or hives may occur.
  • If you absolutely must be given such contrast, you may be given antihistamines (such as Benadryl) or steroids before the test.
  • The kidneys help remove iodine out of the body. Those with kidney disease or diabetes may need to receive extra fluids after the test to help flush the iodine out of the body.