How Do I Prepare for a Sinus CT Scan
Preparing for your sinus CT (computed tomography) scan is different from preparing for other types of scans, but if you follow your doctor’s preparation instructions, it will be simple! Follow these instructions so your scan will go smoothly and you can get the care you need.
If your doctor has recommended this scan, they are likely concerned about inflammation or blockages in your sinuses, the hollow spaces in the bones of the face and head, especially around nasal passages. If you have overwhelming sinus pressure or pain talk to your doctor about a sinus CT scan today.
A CT scan will allow your doctor to visualize those sinus spaces and see what might be causing you pain. Your doctor will likely recommend a CT scan over an MRI because it is faster and offers more detailed images of your sinus spaces.
The most common goal of a sinus CT scan is to diagnose sinusitis, but this scan can also diagnose any of the following*:
- Sinuses filled with fluid or thickened sinus membranes
- Inflammatory diseases
- Tumors of the nasal cavity and sinuses
- Birth defects in the sinuses
- Infection in the bones of the sinuses (osteomyelitis)
- Injury to the face over the sinuses from trauma
- Nasal polyps
- Cause of repeated bloody noses (epistaxis)
*Getting a sinus CT does not mean you certainly have one of these diagnoses – talk to your doctor about what they’re looking for with this scan.
What Should I Do Before My Sinus CT Scan?
You can prepare for your sinus CT scan by getting a good night’s rest the night before your scan. If you are getting a sinus CT scan with contrast, your doctor might schedule you for a blood test ahead of your scan to ensure no complications with the contrast solution. If you don’t have time to complete a blood test before your exam, you can arrive early to your appointment, and one of our SJRA technicians can complete the test.
Your doctor will likely give you instructions about how long you should fast before your scan. If you are getting a sinus CT scan with contrast, try not to eat for 4 hours before your appointment. Your doctor might even request that you do not brush your teeth before your scan, as swallowing toothpaste could affect your results.
Stick to a diet of clear liquids, if possible, before those 4 hours. Other than this, don’t do anything outside of your normal routine on the day of your scan. We want your results to be as accurate to your normal lifestyle as possible. If you are eating something on the day of your scan, try to eat whole foods like fruits or vegetables. Stay away from greasy and heavy foods that could take your body a long time to digest, and that could disrupt natural processes.
Try to arrive 10-15 minutes early to your appointment in case you have any questions or if your technician has any new information. Don’t wear any jewelry or hair clips to your appointment. Because the scan will be of your face and head, don’t wear anything with metal in it on your head – earrings, wigs, hearing aids, etc.
Try not to wear any cosmetic products, lotions, creams, or deodorants as these products could have microscopic bits of metal that could interact with the machine in a harmful way. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes to your appointment. If your clothes have a lot of metal on them, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown.
What Happens During A Sinus CT Scan?
Your actual scan will take around 15 minutes. You will lie down on your back or your stomach on a metal bed, and the CT machine will move around your head. If you get a sinus CT scan with contrast, your technician will inject the contrast dye before your scan. This contrast solution helps create results with better visualization and differentiation between spaces and structures.
During your scan, the CT machine will pass an X-ray beam around your head and face. You can keep your eyes open, but because this scan is of your face, you might feel more comfortable and less claustrophobic with your eyes closed. A CT scanner is mostly open, but it will be close to your face during this particular procedure. A sinus CT scan is painless and requires you to lie as still as possible while capturing the images.
After your CT scan, you’ll be free to go home. If you receive a sinus CT scan with contrast, drink 6-8 cups of water when you get home. A sinus CT scan shows your sinus spaces, not your eyes, teeth, ears, or brain. For images of those structures, you would need a head CT scan. Abnormal sinus CT results would look like dark spaces in and around your sinuses. Of all the medical scans on the market, CT scans are the most accurate for your sinuses. Your sinus CT scan results will be available within 24 hours and sent to your doctor. Your doctor will call within a week to schedule an appointment to discuss your results and potential treatment.
At South Jersey Radiology, we want you to have good medical scan experience, whether that means clarity of preparation instructions or speed of results. Let us know how we can help streamline your care and call us today to schedule an appointment at any of our following locations:
- Greentree Office – Marlton, NJ
- Haddonfield Office – Haddonfield, NJ
- Turnersville Office – Turnersville, NJ
- Voorhees Office – Voorhees Township, NJ
- Route 73 Office – Voorhees Township, NJ
- Washington Township Office – Sewell, NJ
- West Deptford Office – West Deptford, NJ
Learn more about the board-certified, subspecialized radiologists who read and interpret studies at SJRA, here.
A sinus CT scan is recommended when there are concerns about inflammation or blockages in the sinuses. It allows your doctor to visualize the sinus spaces and identify the cause of symptoms such as sinus pressure or pain. The scan provides detailed images and can help diagnose conditions like sinusitis, inflammatory diseases, tumors, birth defects, infections, nasal polyps, and the cause of repeated bloody noses.
A sinus CT scan is preferred over an MRI for evaluating sinus issues because it is faster and provides more detailed images of the sinus spaces. An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves, while a CT scan uses X-rays to create images.
To prepare for your sinus CT scan, get a good night's rest before the scan. If your doctor has recommended a sinus CT scan with contrast, they may schedule a blood test beforehand to ensure no complications. Your doctor will also provide instructions on fasting before the scan, typically around 4 hours. They may advise against brushing your teeth before the scan, as swallowing toothpaste could affect the results. Stick to a clear liquid diet during the fasting period and avoid greasy or heavy foods. Arrive early to your appointment, around 10-15 minutes, and avoid wearing jewelry, hair clips, or anything with metal on your head. It's best to avoid cosmetic products, lotions, creams, or deodorants that contain microscopic bits of metal.
During a sinus CT scan, you will lie down on a bed, either on your back or stomach. The CT machine will move around your head to capture images of your sinuses. If you're getting a sinus CT scan with contrast, our technologist will administer the contrast dye, orally or intravenously, before the scan to enhance visualization. The scan is painless, and you need to lie as still as possible during the process, which typically takes around 15 minutes. You can keep your eyes open. After the scan, you can continue your daily routine.
If you receive a sinus CT scan with contrast, it's recommended to drink 6-8 cups of water when you get home. The scan focuses on the sinus spaces and does not include the eyes, teeth, ears, or brain. For images of those structures, a head CT scan would be necessary. The results of your sinus CT scan will be available within 24 hours and will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will typically schedule an appointment within a week to discuss the results and potential treatment.
Sinus CT scans are highly accurate for evaluating sinus conditions. They provide detailed images of the sinus spaces, allowing doctors to identify abnormalities or issues related to inflammation, blockages, tumors, infections, or other conditions affecting the sinuses.
You can schedule a sinus CT scan at any of our office locations listed below:
At South Jersey Radiology, our board-certified, subspecialized radiologists read and interpret the sinus CT scan results. Each one of our radiologists have additional training in specific areas of the body to provide added detail for you and your doctor.
Yes, your doctor will receive the sinus CT scan results within 24 hours. They will then schedule an appointment within a week to discuss the results and potential treatment options with you.