Computed tomography of the lumbar spine: What you need to know
The article is professionally consulted by Master, Doctor Nguyen Le Thao Tram - Radiologist - Radiology Department - Vinmec Nha Trang International General Hospital.
Computed tomography of the lumbar spine uses a rotating X-ray beam to view different levels or slices of the lumbar spine. The results of this test help the doctor evaluate injuries such as a ruptured disc, or any other abnormalities in the bones and spine.
1. What is a computed tomography scan of the lumbar spine for?
Computerized tomography of the lumbar spine is to use X-rays to create cross-sectional images of the body part at the lumbar spine. The scanner circles the body and sends the images back to a computer screen for the doctor and technician to see.
The lumbar part of the spine is a common area for back related problems. Accordingly, the lumbar spine is almost the lowest part of the spine. It is made up of five vertebrae. Below the lumbar spine is the sacrum and below the sacrum is the coccyx (tailbone). In addition, there are several other components of the lumbar spine such as: major blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
Computed tomography of the lumbar spine is one of the imaging tests that doctors can use to diagnose problems related to the spine including pain caused by injury, infection, or medical conditions. other. Therefore, perform a CT scan of the lumbar spine when there are signs such as:
● Back pain accompanied by fever
● Birth defects affecting the spine
● Lower spine injury
Low back pain
Problems related to bladder control
Spine weakness, numbness or other problems related to the legs.
2. What should the patient prepare before taking a lumbar spine scan?
Computed tomography of the lumbar spine is a noninvasive test. Before the test, the patient will be asked to wear a hospital gown. At the same time, remove all jewelry and metal objects from the body.
In some cases, it is necessary to use a special dye (contrast). This medicine helps to increase contrast in specific areas that are better shown on X-rays. It is given intravenously in the hand or forearm. Or it can be injected into the spinal canal. In certain cases, the patient will be asked not to eat or drink anything for 4 to 6 hours before the scan. In cases where you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast, you should talk to your treating doctor for a treatment plan.
3. Steps to perform a computed tomography scan of the lumbar spine
The patient will be explained in detail by the specialist and the technician to help the patient cooperate more easily.
The technician will instruct the patient to lie on their back in the machine frame, with the shoulders as low as possible, and the hands can be raised above the head or can be left along the body. During the scan, the technician will ask the patient to hold their breath and not swallow to avoid affecting the test results. Then, the technician will conduct a CT scan of the entire spine in the vertical direction. This test can take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Evaluation of results:
● Image results will help doctors evaluate vertebral body injuries such as: vertebral body rupture, vertebral collapse, vertebral body slippage, especially in the case of displacement of the lesion posterior to the vertebral body, posterior arch damage, traumatic hematoma, signs of disc herniation, soft tissue injuries, ...
● This result can also observe lesions in degenerative spondylosis. such as: lateral joint block degeneration, ligament degeneration, spondylolisthesis due to degeneration, spinal stenosis.
Also evaluate the congenital abnormalities of the spine.
4. How to handle possible complications
Performing computed tomography of the lumbar spine helps doctors easily diagnose and treat the disease early with high treatment efficiency. However, this test has some possible complications.
● Risk of X-ray exposure: Therefore, it is necessary to closely monitor and control to ensure that the least amount of radiation is used. In addition, with some specific cases, it is necessary to use contrast material to increase accuracy of the imaged areas that can cause allergic reactions. Mild allergies can be itching, nausea, sneezing, hives. The doctor may then use antihistamines or steroids before the scan.
● Patients with diabetes or kidney disease should notify their doctor if they must use contrast agents. At that time, the doctor will add fluids to the patient after the test to help remove iodine from the body.
● In some cases of contrast media use, there has been a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Notify your doctor for a timely treatment plan.
Computed tomography of the lumbar spine is one of the effective methods to help doctors diagnose and effectively treat diseases related to the lumbar spine, but this method can leave some complications. such as X-ray exposure, allergies, etc. Therefore, when patients are suspected of having spine-related diseases, they should choose reputable examination addresses to minimize these complications.
Vinmec International General Hospital has been and continues to invest in modern machines to serve the work of computed tomography, X-ray, ... in diagnostic imaging, including examination procedures for diseases of the spine and joints. Especially to bring about high efficiency in disease examination and treatment, Vinmec now also designs many medical services accompanied by leading chiropractors to bring the best treatment results. for your customers.
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References: .healthline.com, medlineplus.gov