Computed tomography (CT) of the neck is a special noninvasive X-ray scan used to detect and diagnose health problems in the neck. This test can be used to evaluate symptoms such as swallowing difficulty, lumps, and neck pain. Neck CT can detect aneurysms, tumors, infections, thyroid nodules and other disorders associated with the neck region.
In some cases, your doctor may order a neck CT with intravenous (IV) contrast. This allows for better visualization of blood vessels and other structures. Please refer to the Computed Tomography section for more details about CT scanning and the associated risks and benefits.
Your doctor may recommend a neck CT if you have symptoms that could be caused by an abnormality in structures of your neck. You might notice a lump, neck discomfort, or trouble swallowing. Sometimes your doctor might detect something while examining your neck, such as nodules on the thyroid gland. Diseases and disorders of the neck can include:
Neck CT may also be recommended when planning for neck surgery, radiation therapy, or biopsy.
If you are, or think you are pregnant, be sure to notify your doctor or technologist before undergoing a CT scan. The amount of radiation received during a CT scan is unlikely to harm you or your baby. However, in general, CT scans are not recommended in pregnant women. In every case, the mother’s health must be considered as well. The benefit to the pregnant woman of having the CT scan to diagnose an illness may outweigh the small amount of risk to the baby from a low-dose CT scan.
The part of your body being scanned should also be considered. For example, brain CT exposes the unborn baby to little or no radiation. Even if the fetus is directly exposed to CT scan radiation (such as in CT scans of the abdomen or pelvis), the increased risk of developing cancer later in life is one in 1000. Some doctors may recommend another type of exam (ultrasound or MRI) to avoid exposing your baby to radiation.
The ACR states that current information suggests breastfeeding is safe after the use of intravenous contrast. Please discuss your breastfeeding options with your medical provider.
For more information on contrast, please see About CT Contrast.
To schedule a neck CT scan, please call our scheduling team at (512) 453-6100 or toll free at (800) 998-8214. A provider referral is required to make an appointment.
A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to interpret radiological examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to the provider who referred you to ARA. The physician will then share the results with you. Your report will also be available on the patient portal within 3 business days after the exam report is finalized.
If you are getting a CT exam at ARA and want to know...
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MASKS: ARA continues to require employees and patients to wear masks at our imaging centers for the safety of all.