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What is a CT scan?

A CT scan is a computed tomography scan. It involves taking a large series of x-rays. The CT scan machine consists of a tunnel and mobile bed. People are required to lie down for about 10 to 15 minutes. The computer then combines the pictures to obtain detailed images of the bones in the spine.

When do the results become available?

The CT scan is reported by a consultant radiologist, and it may take several days for the results to become available. The result will be fully discussed with you when you attend a follow-up appointment.

How is an MRI scan different to a CT scan?

MRI is a radiation-free investigation which provides high resolution images of the disc and nerves in the spine. MRI scans can show early disc degeneration (wear and tear) in the lumbar spine.

In contrast, a CT scan provides detailed images of the vertebrae. The images can be manipulated by the computer to show the 3D structure of the spine.