Are CT Scans for Neck Pain Safe?

X-Rays, CT Scans, and MRIs in Beverly Hills, CA

People who are living with neck discomfort resulting from trauma or who have been experiencing chronic neck pain for several weeks may be asked to undergo a computerized tomography (CT) scan. The scan produces a detailed, 3D image of the cervical spine by slowly directing x-rays into the area in a circular motion. CT scans are a preferred way to view the vertebral column because they provide more detail than a traditional x-ray.

What Can it Detect?

Los Angeles spine surgeons and specialists often use CT scans to identify conditions on and around the cervical vertebrae such as herniated discs, fractures, spinal stenosis and tumors. They can also measure an individual’s bone density and calculate the progressive stages of osteoporosis.

What are the Risks?

Whenever people are exposed to radiation, there is a slight risk of developing cancer. Additionally, some physicians prefer that their patients are injected with contrast dye in order to better visualize the structures of the neck. A small portion of the population is allergic to the solution, and sensitive patients may react to it by presenting symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Hives
  • Vomiting
  • Anaphylaxis

Serious reactions to contrast dye are extremely rare. Most people who display symptoms recover relatively quickly.

What Happens After the Test?

Most individuals have CT scans performed on an outpatient basis and are able to resume their normal routines once the procedure is completed. Patients who received contrast dye may be encouraged to increase their water consumption in order to flush the chemicals from their circulatory system.

The scan will then be read by a radiologist, and the report will be sent to the ordering physician, or the primary health care provider will study the images personally. Patients are usually notified of the results within a few hours and decisions about care can be determined. For more information about neck pain or to get a second opinion about a current condition, call (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation with Medical Director Dr. Hyun W. Bae and start the journey toward finding a solution for your pain and discomfort.