What does a brain CT scan show my healthcare provider?

June 24, 2024 – 9 min read

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A brain CT scan uses advanced imaging technology to provide your healthcare provider with a clear, highly detailed view of your brain. 

Your doctor can use your brain CT results to help identify various conditions, to guide their treatment decisions, and to monitor your health over time.

Let’s take a closer look at brain CT scans, including how a CT can help diagnose brain injuries and brain tumors, along with what you can expect from your brain CT results.

What conditions can a brain CT scan detect?

A brain CT scan is commonly used to identify and evaluate brain tumors, strokes, bleeding in the brain, and traumatic brain injuries

Also, a brain CT can help detect conditions such as hydrocephalus (an abnormal buildup of fluid in the brain), brain infections, and congenital brain abnormalities

How does a brain CT scan help my healthcare provider to make a diagnosis?

Brain CTs help your healthcare provider make a diagnosis by offering clear and precise images of your brain’s structure. 

These images allow them to see abnormalities that might not be visible through other diagnostic methods, which is essential for developing an effective treatment plan.

What can a brain CT show that a brain MRI cannot?

While both brain CT scans and brain MRI scans are valuable diagnostic tools, a brain CT is particularly good at detecting acute conditions that require immediate attention. It is also quicker than an MRI, making it the preferred choice in emergency situations. 

A brain CT scan provides excellent detail of bone structures and can be more suitable for patients who have difficulty remaining still for long periods. This makes the brain CT scan a vital tool in providing comprehensive care and ensuring that your healthcare provider has all the necessary information to address your health concerns effectively.

How a brain CT detects and assesses brain injuries

The clear images from a brain CT scan can help your provider to identify various types of injuries, like concussions, skull fractures and internal bleeding, and to decide on the best course of action for your treatment. 

What kinds of brain injuries can a CT scan detect?

A brain CT scan is highly effective at identifying traumatic brain injuries (or TBIs) like concussions, as well as contusions, and hematomas. The scan can also reveal skull fractures and any associated damage to brain tissue. 

The results from your brain CT scan can also detect bleeding in the brain (or intracerebral hemorrhage), or bleeding around the brain (or subarachnoid hemorrhage), which is critical for diagnosing and managing strokes and other acute conditions. 

The detailed images from a brain CT scan let your healthcare provider see the exact nature and extent of your brain injury.

How does a CT scan differentiate between acute and chronic brain injuries?

A brain CT scan can differentiate between acute and chronic brain injuries by highlighting the specific characteristics of each type of injury. 

Acute injuries, like recent trauma or bleeding, look distinctive on the results because they show up as fresh blood or swelling. A chronic brain injury, on the other hand, may show up as areas of scar tissue or as long-standing damage. 

These tissue changes are all visible on a CT scan, helping your provider understand the injury’s history and progression, which is important for your provider to treat your specific injury.

How can a CT scan guide the treatment plan for a brain injury?

The results from a brain CT give your healthcare provider essential information about the type, location, and severity of the injury. 

For acute injuries, the scan can reveal urgent conditions that require immediate medical intervention, such as surgery to relieve pressure or stop bleeding. For chronic injuries, the scan helps in planning long-term care strategies, including rehabilitation and therapy. 

A brain CT scan can be used to monitor your recovery progress, ensuring that you get great care, and that your healthcare team can promptly make any necessary changes in your treatment. 

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Identifying brain tumors on a CT scan

Your provider may have recommended a brain CT scan to determine if you have developed a brain tumor, to discover whether a tumor may be cancerous, and to potentially determine how a tumor may impact your health. 

What types of brain tumors can be identified with a brain CT scan?

A brain CT scan can identify several types of brain tumors, both benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous). 

This includes primary brain tumors, which originate in the brain, as well as metastatic brain tumors, which have spread to the brain from other parts of the body. 

Specific types of tumors that can be detected include gliomas, meningiomas, and pituitary adenomas. The type of tumor will help determine a person’s treatment plan. 

Your brain CT results will show your provider not only where a tumor may be, but can also help determine what kind of tumor it is, which is essential information for diagnosing your condition.

How does a brain CT help show the size and location of a tumor?

A brain CT scan allows your healthcare provider to see the exact dimensions of the tumor and where it is situated. 

Knowing the exact position of the tumor also helps assess its potential impact on surrounding brain structures and functions.

This precise information is very important for planning treatment, as the size and location of a tumor can significantly impact your provider’s approach––whether treatment may involve surgery, radiation, or other therapies. 

What other information does a CT scan provide about brain tumors?

Beyond identifying the size and location of a tumor, a brain CT scan can show the tumor’s density and composition, which can help differentiate between different types of tumors and other abnormalities. 

A brain CT can also reveal any swelling or changes in the brain’s structures that might be caused by the tumor. This comprehensive view helps your healthcare provider understand the tumor’s characteristics and how it might be affecting your overall brain health. 

Understanding your brain CT scan results

It’s important for your health that you understand what your brain CT results mean, and how your results could impact your healthcare decisions. We’ll help guide you through how your results will be interpreted, how to discuss them with your healthcare provider, and what questions to ask.

How will my brain CT results be interpreted?

After your scan, your brain CT scan results will be interpreted by a radiologist, a medical professional specialized in reading and analyzing imaging scans. The radiologist will examine the images for any abnormalities or signs of conditions such as tumors, bleeding, swelling, or structural issues. 

They will look at the size, shape, and position of various structures within your brain and identify any deviations from the norm. Once the radiologist has reviewed the scan, they will send a detailed report to your healthcare provider, who will then discuss the findings with you.

What should I know about discussing my brain CT results with my healthcare provider?

Your provider will go over the radiologist’s report and explain what the findings mean in the context of your symptoms and overall health. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if any medical terms or explanations are confusing. 

It’s also helpful to take notes during the discussion, or to bring someone with you to help remember important details. Understanding your results thoroughly will enable you to make informed decisions about your treatment and your next steps.

What questions should I ask my provider about my brain CT results?

When you discuss your results with your healthcare provider, you will have a chance to ask questions about your results, and about any next steps that may follow. 

To get the most out of your discussion about your brain CT scan results, consider asking your healthcare provider the following questions:

  • What exactly did the CT scan reveal?
  • Are there any abnormalities or concerning areas?
  • How do these findings relate to my symptoms?
  • What are the next steps based on these results?
  • Are there any potential risks or complications?

Take the time to make sure you understand everything your provider wants you to know, and if any further questions come up, please don’t hesitate to ask them. Remember, your provider wants you to get the best possible care, so be ready to have a helpful discussion.

How to schedule your CT appointment with us

Touchstone Medical Imaging offers CT scans in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, and Texas. 

Reach out to us at Touchstone, and we’ll help you schedule an CT appointment at an imaging center near you, today.

We’re here to help you get the answers you need.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

A brain CT scan can detect conditions like brain tumors, strokes, bleeding within the brain, traumatic brain injuries, hydrocephalus, brain infections, and congenital brain abnormalities.

A brain CT scan provides clear and precise images of your brain’s structure, allowing your provider to see abnormalities that may not be visible through other diagnostic methods.

A brain CT is particularly effective at detecting acute conditions that require immediate attention, and provides excellent detail of bone structures.

A brain CT scan can identify traumatic brain injuries such as concussions, contusions, hematomas, skull fractures, and bleeding within or around the brain.

A brain CT scan highlights the specific characteristics of each type of injury, with acute injuries appearing as fresh blood or swelling, and chronic injuries showing as scar tissue or long-standing damage.

A brain CT scan provides essential information about the type, location, and severity of the injury, helping to determine the appropriate medical intervention or long-term care strategy.

A brain CT scan can identify both benign and malignant tumors, including primary brain tumors, and metastatic brain tumors.

Your brain CT scan results will be interpreted by a radiologist, who will examine the images for abnormalities, and provide a detailed report to your healthcare provider for further discussion with you.