To monitor the growth, the shrinkage or the lack of either my oncologist schedules me for CT scans of my lower abdomen and lungs after every fourth bi-weekly chemotherapy treatment. Just went through one of those scheduled CT scans on Monday and thought I’d share a bit about the process for those who are curious while it was fresh in my mind.
The following description comes from the WebMD website …
“A computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to make detailed pictures of structures inside of the body.
During the test, you will lie on a table that is attached to the CT scanner, which is a large doughnut-shaped machine. The CT scanner sends X-rays through the body area being studied. Each rotation of the scanner provides a picture of a thin slice of the organ or area. All of the pictures are saved as a group on a computer. They also can be printed.
In some cases, a dye called contrast material may be used. It may be put in a vein (IV) in your arm, or it may be placed into other parts of your body (such as the rectum or a joint) to see those areas better. For some types of CT scans you drink the dye. The dye makes structures and organs easier to see on the CT pictures.
A CT scan can be used to study all parts of your body, such as the chest, belly, pelvis, or an arm or leg. It can take pictures of body organs, such as the liver, pancreas, intestines, kidneys, bladder, adrenal glands, lungs and heart. It also can study blood vessels, bones, and the spinal cord.”
All and all that’s a pretty simple and straightforward explanation …
I get a double whammy on the contrast … about 30 minutes before they do the CT scan I drink two sixteen ounce glasses of Kool-Aid with contrast mixed in (Yes, the nurse technician confessed it was Sugar Free Orange Kool-Aid … taste like Tang for all you former astronauts and children of the 60′s and 70′s).
Then once she takes me back and gets me situated for the CT scan itself, the nurse technician hooks me up with an IV to get some of the contrast dye running through my veins as the CT scan is being done.
A slight omission in the explanation from WebMd above … the table you lay on slowly moves through the scanner as it takes those thin slice pictures that are put together later as a group picture.
I usually do six trips through the scanner … the first three are usually practice pictures (probably making sure they align with the pictures from previous CT scans since they are being used for comparison). Then she injects me with the contrast dye through the IV and I do three more trips for the real pictures. Before the start of each scan, a pre-recorded male voice tells you to take a deep breath and hold it and when the scans for that picture are complete, the same voice urgently tells you to ‘Breathe!’ (And some times he just doesn’t seem to say it quick enough …)
Then on the following Wednesday at the oncologist, he tells me what the CT scans revealed. In the four previous scans, they have shown no growth, no shrinkage, the cancer is stable (Here’s hoping I get more of the same kind of good news later today for the fifth scan.) And my oncologist will even show me the scans on his computer if I ask … medical technology has come so far … but the one who does the healing is still God … thank you Lord!
Hope you learned something new in this post … if you have anything to add please leave a comment.