Site Map

Sinus CT scan

CAT scan - sinus; Computed axial tomography scan - sinus; Computed tomography scan - sinus; CT scan - sinus

A computed tomography (CT) scan of the sinus is an imaging test that uses x-rays to make detailed pictures of the air-filled spaces inside the face (sinuses).

I Would Like to Learn About:

How the Test is Performed

You will be asked to lie on a narrow table that slides into the center of the CT scanner. You may lie on your back, or you may lie face-down with your chin raised.

Once you are inside the scanner, the machine's x-ray beam rotates around you. (Modern "spiral" scanners can perform the exam without stopping.)

A computer creates separate images of the body area. These are called slices. The images can be stored, viewed on a monitor, or printed on film. Three-dimensional models of the body area can be created by stacking the slices together.

You need to stay still during the exam, because movement causes blurred images. You may be told to hold your breath for short periods of time. Straps and pillows may be used to keep you still during the procedure.

The actual scan should take about 30 seconds. The entire process should take 15 minutes.

How to Prepare for the Test

For some tests, you will need to have a special dye, called contrast, to be delivered into the body before the test starts. Contrast helps certain areas show up better on the x-rays.

If you weigh more than 300 pounds, find out if the CT machine has a weight limit. Too much weight can cause damage to the scanner's working parts.

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

How the Test will Feel

Some people may have discomfort from lying on the hard table.

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 feelings are normal. They will go away within a few seconds.

Why the Test is Performed

CT rapidly creates detailed pictures of the sinuses. The test may diagnose or detect:

This results from this test may also help your provider plan for sinus surgery.

Normal Results

Results are considered normal if no problems are seen in the sinuses.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to:

Risks

Risks of a CT scan includes:

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

Some people have allergies to contrast dye. Let your provider know if you have ever had an allergic reaction to injected contrast dye.

Rarely, the dye may cause a life-threatening allergic response called anaphylaxis. If you have any trouble breathing during the test, let the scanner operator know right away. Scanners have an intercom and speakers, so the operator can hear you at all times.

References

Beale T, Brown J, Route J. ENT, neck and dental radiology. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 6th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 67.

Shaw AS, Dixon AK. Multidetector computed tomography. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 4.

Thomsen HS, Reimer P. Intravascular contrast media for radiology, CT, and MRI. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 6th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 2.

Walden MJ, Zinreich SJ, Aygun N. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 41.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 1/18/2015  

Reviewed By: Jason Levy, MD, Northside Radiology Associates, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2016 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com