- A full-body CT scan is a fast, painless and non-invasive medical imaging test that uses X-rays to create detailed images of tissues, organs, and bones.
- These images can help professionals scan for medical issues like internal injuries and cancers.
- Full-body CT scans can cost $500 to $3,000 depending on insurance, whether you get scanned in a hospital or an outpatient facility, as well as the region where the scan is done.
- CT scans come with the risk of ionizing radiation exposure.
- MRI scans are imaging tests that do not use harmful radiation and, depending on the case, may be better screening tests than CT scans alone.
Many medical issues usually strike silently. The problem may start well before any apparent symptoms or signs.
A full-body CT scan is a powerful screening test that lets us look inside the body.
With careful interpretation of results, your healthcare team can use your scan findings to help you take a proactive approach against medical issues.
What Is a Full-Body CT Scan?
A whole body CT (computed tomography) scan, or CAT scan, is a powerful screening test that uses X-rays to produce images of the inside of your body, including tissues, organs, and bones, especially in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.
These images are rendered on the computer by special software, and they can be either viewed on a device or can be printed.
3D images can also be generated to give your physician an even better view of the body part being scanned. An expert radiologist will interpret these images and create a detailed report that will guide the further course of action.
Recommended reading: An introduction to Computerized tomography (CT)
What Does a CT Scan Help With?
Medical professionals usually order a CT scan to observe bone damage, internal injuries, blood flow problems in blood vessels, and tumors. CT scan images may help determine the location, size, and shape of a tumor. This information is helpful to plan and prepare for surgery or targeted treatment modalities like radiotherapy. CT images also guide the surgeon during a biopsy to collect a tissue sample.
CT screening is usually good in detecting cancer or other abnormalities in the chest. For those that medically qualify, the ezra Full Body Plus includes a 5-minute low-dose chest CT (LDCT).
How Does a Full-Body CT Scan Work?
In CT scanning, you lie down on the table of the CT scanner and the machine takes cross-sectional X-ray images of your organs and tissues as the table slowly slides inside.
A full-body CT scan may take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. One factor to estimate time is whether a contrast scan is required, in which case the added time is needed to inject the dye and for it to take effect.
Note: Not all CT scans require contrast dye. The LDCT lung cancer screening test that we perform as part of the ezra Full Body Plus does not use contrast agents.
Also, like most imaging tests, the quality of the CT images depends on your ability to lie absolutely still. In some cases, you may have to hold your breath when a part of your body is scanned.
For some people, this may be difficult and multiple scans may be needed for high-quality images. This increases the time it takes to complete the scan.
If contrast material is required, you may be asked not to consume food at least three hours prior to your scan. Fluids are usually okay, but your physician will guide you if that needs to be restricted as well.
Since they interfere with the imaging process, you need to remove all metallic objects from your person before your scan. Some centers may provide a hospital gown. At ezra, we provide you with a clean set of pajamas to help you get comfortable.
Cost of a Full-Body CT Scan
The cost of a full-body CT scan may be from $500 to $3,000 depending upon the facility and area. Your insurance company may pay some or all of the cost of the scan, depending on your policy. Ezra allows you to pay for its scan service with your HSA/FSA dollars.
What Are the Risk Factors of CT Scanning?
Research published in the Radiology journal indicates that regular CT scans may increase the risk of cancer in otherwise healthy people.
Whole-body radiation dose, also called “effective dose,” is the amount of radiation dose you receive from a single CT scan. When, and if, you have subsequent scans, this dosage increases and may eventually increase your cancer risk.
To check your risk of cancer through radiation exposure in medical imaging tests you may use the calculator at XrayRisk.com.
However, a CT scan does have its benefits and is usually better at seeing problems with the bones as well as with the brain.
Experts believe that CT scans may be beneficial in people with a high risk of lung cancers, like current smokers, those who have a long history of smoking or have a family history of lung cancer. While choosing CT scans for cancer, the potential benefits should outweigh the risks.
The U.S. Preventative Task Force recommends an LDCT scan for lung cancer screening in high-risk individuals. The efficacy of this screening modality in screening and eventually helping get a better prognosis can be seen in the fact that early detection decreases mortality rate by 20%. If you fall in the high-risk category, it is advisable to get an LDCT scan for screening annually.
For those that medically qualify, we offer a low-dose CT scan of the chest as part of the ezra Full Body Plus scan.
Health professionals advise you to weigh the benefits of a whole body CT scan with the potential risk while choosing the imaging modality as part of your health care routine.
However, an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is safe because it does not use any radiation. An MRI scan, as a medical imaging test, can be better at identifying potential cancer than CT or ultrasound alone.
Getting the Benefits of a Full-Body Scan
While CT scans are helpful in identifying issues within the body, they do come with X-Ray radiation.
An MRI scan, however, does not have harmful ionizing radiation. CT scans are better at visualizing areas of the body where motion is problematic for MRI such as the lungs and bowel.
The right tool, however, depends on what you’re screening for, clinical guidelines, and the recommendation of a medical provider. Remember, both types of scans have their own benefits. While deciding on one type of scan over the other, consider both the risks and benefits.
A scan of the full body by ezra is an MRI-based full-body screening service that screens the body for signs of cancer in up to 13 organs.
The whole-body scan takes approximately an hour, plus an optional 45-minute follow-up consultation with a medical provider to help make sense of your ezra Report. Throughout the entire ezra experience, you’ll have a personal care advisor who will answer all your questions and guide you.
The ezra Full Body costs $1,950, or $180 a month, and is designed to screen for potential cancers in the head, neck, abdomen, and pelvis. Meanwhile, the ezra Full Body Plus, our most advanced service, costs $2,350 or $220 a month and scans up to 14 organs and also includes a 5-minute low-dose chest CT, coronary calcium scoring, and a prostate scan with IV contrast.
Ezra scans are ultra-sensitive, accurate, and fast and may promote early detection of cancers or other health issues in the body.