A cervical spine 3D CT scan is a medical procedure that uses specialized X-ray equipment and computer imaging to create a 3D visual model of your cervical spine. The cervical spine is the portion of the spine that runs through the neck so the test may also be called a neck CT scan. Your doctor may order this test if you’ve recently been in an accident or if you’re suffering from neck pain.
If your exam involves the use of contrast dye, you should make certain preparations: Inform your doctor if you have allergies, diabetes, or any history of kidney disease. You should not eat or drink for four to six hours before your scan. It is recommended that CT scans not be performed during pregnancy unless the benefits of the scan outweigh the risks. If you are pregnant, you must get a clearance certificate from your doctor before the scan. Remove any metal objects, for example jewelry, which may affect your CT scan.
As mentioned above, the cervical spine CT scan is performed to check for injuries after an accident. The exam can help your doctor accurately diagnose potential injuries to specific area of your spinal column. However, your doctor may also order the scan to investigate:
Herniated discs, which are the most common cause of back pain Birth defects of the cervical spine in children Tumors that may have started in the spine or somewhere else in the body Infections involving the cervical spine Certain bone diseases, such as arthritis or osteoporosis, by measuring your bone density
A CT scan takes about 10 to 20 minutes. In some cases, you will need to have an injection of contrast dye. The scan involves the following procedure: You should lie on an examination table (usually on your back) that slides into a tunnel at the center of the CT scanner.
The table moves slowly through the scanner while the X-ray beams record images. Stay still during the scan as any movement inside the scanner can affect the CT images.