Computed tomography (CT) of the head, neck and spine

Computed tomography (CT) is an X-ray examination that provides detailed cross-sectional images of various organs, such as the brain. But bones and joints can also be depicted well. This enables neuroradiologists to recognize diseases and injuries. In some cases, doctors administer a contrast agent containing iodine during the examination to make pathological changes even more visible.


The Department of Neuroradiology uses computer tomography on the head (brain, jaw, teeth, etc.), neck and spine. It is used, among other things, for strokes, cerebral hemorrhages, tumors, skull base fractures, and to accompany the planning of operations or angiographies (imaging of vessels, e.g. aneurysms in the brain). The applications of CT are diverse and since today’s devices no longer have a narrow tube but a wide ring, the procedure can also be used for people with claustrophobia.

Computed tomography provides fast and meaningful results and is a painless examination that can usually be carried out quickly – depending on the type of medical issue. However, it is associated with exposure to X-rays, which is considered to be low. Nevertheless, always discuss with your doctor whether the examination is really necessary and whether there are any radiation-free alternatives.

Our special examinations

In addition to general examinations of the head, neck and spine, we carry out the following special examinations:

  • Emergency radiology
  • Head and neck imaging
  • Advanced Neuroimaging

Advantages and disadvantages


  • The images are very accurate and detailed and almost all tissues can be displayed.
  • CT provides very fast and informative examination results.
  • The examination is also feasible for people with claustrophobia.
  • CT also works if you have a pacemaker or a metal implant.
  • CT can be easily combined with other examination methods, such as angiography or positron emission tomography (PET-CT)


  • The patient is exposed to X-ray radiation that is higher than during a conventional X-ray examination. However, doctors classify the dose used and the health risk as low. The benefit of the examination should outweigh the risk if the indication is correct. The Clinic for Neuroradiology is also certified for radiation safety. Nevertheless, you should always discuss with your doctor whether the examination is really necessary.
  • Side effects may occur when using contrast media. Minor complaints such as discomfort, a feeling of warmth or nausea are possible. However, some people react hypersensitively or allergically to iodine-containing contrast media – even to the point of circulatory shock. This risk has decreased with newer contrast media. Always have possible intolerances clarified before the examination. In the case of kidney disease and hyperthyroidism, the administration of iodine-containing contrast media must be clarified before the examination.
  • Computer tomography is not suitable for pregnant women due to the X-ray radiation. It is only used if there is no other diagnostic option.
  • CT is more expensive than a conventional X-ray examination.


Modern CTs are no longer narrow tubes, but look more like a large ring. Most of the body is outside the ring during the examination. This is a great advantage, especially for people with claustrophobia, as they are not enclosed and have a clear view of the outside during the examination.

Depending on the medical question, the total duration of a CT scan is around 15 minutes. The scan itself usually only takes a few seconds. This is roughly how the process can be described:

  • You take a seat on a lounger. You should lie there as comfortably and quietly as possible during the examination – otherwise the images could be “blurred” and out of focus.
  • Due to the X-ray radiation, you will be alone in the examination room, but connected to the radiology assistant via an intercom system, with whom you can contact at any time.
  • The stretcher is pushed through the large ring via a rail.
  • The X-ray machine rotates around your body. It scans the body region about which the doctor wants information in layers within a few seconds. Sometimes you will be instructed to hold your breath for a few seconds in between. In some situations, doctors also use a contrast agent containing iodine in order to assess certain structures even better.
  • A measuring system opposite the X-ray tube receives the radiation reflected by the various body structures. The signals are more or less attenuated, depending on the density of the tissue. Bones, for example, have a high density and attenuate the rays more strongly.
  • A computer compiles a three-dimensional, complete image of the examined organ or structure from the measured values. Fabrics of different densities appear in different shades of gray.
Preparation none
Anesthesia not necessary
Duration of examination 5 – 30 min

For patients

As a patient, you cannot register directly for a consultation. Please get a referral from your primary care physician, specialist.

Tel. +41 43 254 41 20
Contact form

For referrer

Simply assign your patient for a CT appointment online or by e-mail to the scheduling department.

Tel. +41 43 254 41 20
Assign online

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