Medical research and diagnostics

Computed tomography (CT) scan of the spleen

The spleen is an unpaired parenchymal (soft tissue, which consists of specific cells) organ of the abdominal cavity of mammals. The range of functions of the spleen includes immune, hematopoietic, filtration, and many others. Despite the fact that the body is not one of the vital, problems with the spleen can cause a person tremendous trouble. To diagnose the functionality and general condition of the organ, computed tomography is used. What you need to know about the method, how exactly is an abdominal CT performed, what are the indications and contraindications, as well as the diagnostic results?

General information about the spleen

The spleen is one of the organs of the abdominal cavity of the human body. Normally, it has the shape of an elongated hemisphere, looks like a gland, is located in the upper left part of the peritoneum behind the stomach.

The body is responsible for the formation of blood and antibodies that support the immune system. Helps to destroy damaged or old red blood cells, the remnants of which eventually enter the liver. The spleen is involved in the formation of red blood cells, iron metabolism, internal hormonal and metabolic processes.

In a person up to the 9th month of fetal development, he performs the function of hematopoiesis. Later, the bone marrow takes over this function, although in some mammals it is the spleen that continues to function as a hematopoietic organ.

What organ diseases can be diagnosed with computed tomography?

CT gives a general picture of the state of the abdominal cavity, so absolutely all changes and pathological processes that occur in the organ will be visible in the final image. For example, in medical practice there are cases of congenital absence of the spleen or, conversely, the presence of two identical organs at once. With the help of diagnostics, it is also possible to track the displacement or excess of the organ, which is accompanied by infringement, squeezing of venous vessels.

In general, primary spleen lesions are extremely rare. But doctors record cases of secondary damage much more often than in any other organs. Among them - spleen infarction, inversion (twisting of the legs), which interferes with normal blood circulation. With the help of CT, some purulent, inflammatory, infectious processes, cancerous tumors, cases of changes in the shape or size of the organ can be investigated.

Important: computed tomography should be done only as directed by the doctor. Keep in mind that during the study, the body is exposed to x-rays, which in large quantities can harm health.

General characteristics of the study

Computed tomography is one of the methods for diagnosing living organisms. It is based on the measurement and computer processing of the effects of x-ray radiation on tissue. Modern computer tomographs used for research are a complex software and hardware complex. Using built-in supersensitive detectors, they capture x-rays that pass through the tissue, then process the information and provide a three-dimensional image of the scanned area. The study itself is notable for painlessness, high speed and maximum informativeness.

How is the diagnosis of the abdominal cavity?

Typically, a CT scan is performed by an x-ray technician, but in some cases, the attending physician can do this. The patient is placed on a computed tomography apparatus. It is a large circle with a pull-out table, on which the patient is located. The laboratory assistant tells the patient the most correct and convenient location, instructs and leaves for another room. From this moment, the relationship between the patient and the staff takes place through the speakerphone integrated into the cockpit. The laboratory assistant reports that the device is turned on, starts it, and asks the patient to lie still for several minutes (the time depends on the diagnostic area and the device itself).

Around the area that you want to scan, a special device equipped with a tube and sensors will begin to rotate. When scanning the abdominal cavity, it is necessary to hold your breath several times. The lab assistant will ask the patient about this during the diagnosis itself. Then the laboratory assistant stops the device, returns to the patient’s office, helps him get up and asks to leave the room. The medical officer waits for the processing of the received information, then displays it on the screen and prints it for further study by doctors. The result of the procedure can be taken on the day of diagnosis. This usually takes 30 minutes or more, depending on the workload of the medical staff.

Contrast enhancement

Contrast is used to improve the visibility of the organ, its vessels, nerves. Most often, by contrast medium is meant iodine-containing preparations. They enter orally or through injection, stain the necessary organ or vessel, highlighting it in the final picture. Such visualization increases the effectiveness of diagnosis, which helps the doctor clearly and quickly make a diagnosis.

To study the spleen, barium sulfate is used. It is sold in the form of a white powder that does not dissolve in water. Depending on the purpose and route of administration, the substance is mixed with water and thickeners. The result is an opaque white mixture that is suitable for oral use or administration by enema. Barium sulfate is not dangerous and is quickly excreted from the body.

Indications / contraindications

Pain or persistent discomfort in the spleenIndividual intolerance to iodine-containing drugs (in the case of a contrast study)
Swelling, organ enlargementSevere kidney pathologies (in the case of a contrast study, since the body will not be able to effectively remove the iodine-containing drug)
Suspicion of cancerSevere diabetes mellitus, thyroid pathology, myeloma (in the case of a contrast study)
Mechanical damage to the abdominal cavityThe period of pregnancy, regardless of the duration and well-being of the woman in labor (because X-ray radiation can adversely affect the development and health of the fetus)
Suspicion of severe inflammatory processes in the organ, heart attack, inversion, abscess or atrophyExcessive overweight of the patient (depends on the maximum weight that the equipment can support)
Confirmation / denial of the growth or presence of a cystMental disorders (during the diagnosis, the instructions of the laboratory assistant should be followed, but a mentally ill person will not be able to do this)
The state of drug or alcohol intoxication (due to the inability to control your own body and possible distortion of the results)
The patient’s illness or well-being (if the condition worsens temporarily, the decision to diagnose should be made by the attending physician)

Preparation for computed tomography

Most often, computed tomography is performed at commercial diagnostic centers. This is associated with a high cost of equipment and a constant infusion of funds for its maintenance. Before visiting the office, you must bring along medical documentation. It should indicate the preliminary diagnosis, complaints, and the doctor’s referral for computed tomography. Also, the study areas, clinical task and specific recommendations to the laboratory assistant should be recorded in the medical documentation. Additionally, it is possible to convey the results of previous studies, if they exist and can be important during CT (in order to compose a holistic pathological picture).

Important: it is necessary to provide medical documentation in full, otherwise the study will be uninformative.

Before starting the diagnosis, the laboratory assistant must inform the patient about the upcoming manipulations and actions. If you have listened or missed the details, be sure to ask the laboratory assistant about them. The result directly depends on the correctness of the diagnosis, so be careful.

First, the patient should lie still. Any involuntary movements can distort the result and reduce the overall information content of the image. This may make it difficult for the doctor to diagnose and may need to be re-diagnosed. Even if only 1 or 2 scans are distorted, the subsequent three-dimensional reconstruction will contain obvious defects.

Secondly, before computed tomography, all jewelry, watches should be removed and clothes with various metal elements should be discarded. Choose the simplest clothes made from natural fabrics so as not to distort the results and not feel discomfort during the study. The metal will block the scanned areas of the skin from x-rays. Result - the image will have white empty areas that do not correspond to the real state of the abdominal cavity.

Important: if you scan the stomach, then the earrings in the ears can be left. The main thing is that the metal does not block the access of x-rays in the examined area.

Feasible side effects

Computed tomography is considered a safe procedure, and the risk of side effects is minimized. All modern equipment works with reduced radiation exposure, so there is no need to worry about the harmful effects of x-rays. Some patients report dizziness or nausea after the procedure. This is due to the rotation of the scanner over the abdominal cavity. A person can get sick of corny, but, given the time frame of diagnosis, the symptoms quickly disappear, and the body returns to normal.

Some side effects may occur after a contrast CT scan. At the injection site (for the introduction of an iodine-containing drug), itching, redness or discomfort may occur. Typically, such a reaction is characteristic of patients with hypersensitivity. When administered orally, an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth can occur, but it quickly disappears without leaving any residue. At the time of administration of the contrast agent, the patient may experience a sharp fever or cold. Special adjustment of this condition is not required, and normal temperature is restored in a few minutes.

Important: the risk of developing more serious side effects is minimal. If you feel a sharp deterioration during / after the diagnosis, notify the laboratory assistant or doctor. The medical staff will provide you with the necessary assistance and tell you how to avoid deterioration in the future.

Computed tomography of the spleen (and organs of the abdominal cavity as a whole) is a standard diagnostic procedure in medical practice. It is as informative as possible, relatively safe, takes a little time both in the patient and in the medical staff. The main thing is to strictly follow the doctor’s recommendations and try to relax. Pay due attention to your own body and be healthy.

The author of the article:
Furmanova Elena Alexandrovna

Specialty: doctor pediatrician, infectious disease specialist, allergist-immunologist.

Total length of service: 7 years.

Education: 2010, Siberian State Medical University, pediatric, pediatrics.

Experience as an infectious disease specialist for more than 3 years.

He has a patent on the subject "A method for predicting a high risk of the formation of a chronic pathology of the adeno-tonsillar system in frequently ill children." As well as the author of publications in the journals of the Higher Attestation Commission.

Other articles by the author

Watch the video: CT Imaging of the Spleen: Part 1 (December 2019).