A cervical spine CT scan is a medical procedure that uses specialized X-ray equipment and computer imaging to create a visual model of your cervical spine. The cervical spine is the portion of the spine that runs through the neck. Because of this, the test is also 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.
The most common reason for a spinal CT scan is to check for injuries after an accident. The exam can help your doctor accurately diagnose potential injuries to this specific area of your spinal column. However, your doctor may also order the test to investigate:
- herniated disks, 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
- broken bones or areas of potential instability
- infections involving the cervical spine
It can also provide important information if you have certain bone diseases, such as arthritis or osteoporosis, by measuring your bone density. This can help your doctor determine the severity of your condition and identify any weakened areas that should be protected from fractures.
If your doctor is doing a biopsy (tissue removal) or removing fluid from an infected area in your cervical spine, they may use a CT scan of your neck as a guide during the procedure.