Everything you need to know about your CT Scan in Puerto Vallarta

First of all, what is a CT Scan?

Learn about what to expect when getting your CT Scan in Puerto Vallarta.

A CT Scan, also known as a Computed Tomography study or CAT Scan Study, is a study performed by a CT scan machine that is used to produce images of your bones, soft tissues and blood vessels. Accordingly, to produce these images, a CT scan machine uses rotating X-rays and the processing power of a computer. Thus, by combining the convenience and simplicity of X-rays and the modern capabilities of computers, a CT scan is able to produce more detailed information and images than normal X-rays. Therefore, through a CT scan procedure, your doctor will be able to get a detailed visualization of different body parts, such as:

  • Spine
  • Shoulders
  • Heart
  • Chest
  • Knee
  • Paranasal sinuses
  • Lungs
  • Head
  • Abdomen
  • Kidneys

Types of CT Scans: CT Scan with contrast vs. CT Scan without contrast

In general terms, there are two types of CT Scans: CT Scans with contrast and CT Scans without contrast.

CT Scan with contrast:

a CT Scan with contrast is an imaging study in which contrast material is used to help highlight parts of your body that need a detailed and exact examination. In this case, the contrast material helps to “paint” your organs and blood vessels in a white tone. In order to do so, the contrast material helps to block the X-rays being transmitted through these parts of your body. Accordingly, if needed, the contrast material will be administered to you in different ways, depending on the part of your body that’s being studied. In general, contrast material can be given to you in three ways: you may have to drink a liquid containing the contrast, the contrast may be injected through a vein in your arm, or it may be administered via an enema. Most often, the constrast material that is used in CT scan studies with contrast is called Optiray. Optiray is a radiopaque contrast material that contains iodine, a substance that absorbs X-rays and helps to generate accurate images of specific organs.

CT Scan with contrast at CMQ Premiere
CT Scan study using contrast material at CMQ Premiere

CT Scan without contrast:

A CT Scan without contrast is an imaging study that is performed by taking cross-sectional images of your body. Once this images have been taken, they are processed in a specialized computer to generate bidimensional or even tridimensional images. Most importantly, this type of CT Scan Study is the safest one available, as contrast material is not used, and therefore, there is no risk of adverse effects or allergic reactions.

CT Scan at Hospital CMQ Centro
CT Scan machine at CMQ City Center

How can I find an Urgent Care Center with a CT Scan in Puerto Vallarta?

How can I find a CT Scan near me?

Normally in Mexico, CT scans are available in urgent care centers that are adjacent to large hospitals. On the other hand, if you need to find a CT scan near your location for a scheduled non-urgent procedure, you can usually find one in large stand-alone imaging centers.

Nevertheless, if you are living in or travelling in Puerto Vallarta, you will find an urgent care and CT scan alternative that’s convenient and nearby at one of our three hospital locations across the bay:

Hospital CMQ Riviera Nayarit is located in Bucerias, Bahia de Banderas; just minutes away from Nuevo Vallarta, Punta Mita, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Sayulita and San Pancho.

CT Scan Studies, Urgent care center open 24/7, and Walk-in clinic.

Av. Héroes de Nacazori 280 Bucerias, 63732 Riviera Nayarit, Nay. Make your appointment!
Hospital CMQ Premiere is located five minutes away from Fluvial Vallarta, Costco, Macro Plaza, Marina Vallarta, Las Aralias and the Main Hotel Zone.

CT Scan and Open MRI Studies, ICU, Urgent care center open 24/7, and Walk-in clinic.

Av. Francisco Villa 1749 Col. Vallarta Villas Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. Make your appointment!
Hospital CMQ City Center is located five minutes away from the Malecon, the Romantic Zone, Olas Altas, Conchas Chinas, and Amapas. Right in the heart of Puerto Vallarta.

CT Scan Studies, 24/7 emergency medicine, On-site specialists, and Walk-in clinic.

Basilio Badillo 365 Col. Emiliano Zapata Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. Make your appointment!

CT Scan in Puerto Vallarta at Hospital CMQ City Center:

If you are staying in the southern part of Puerto Vallarta, in places such as The Malecon, Gringo Gulch, Amapas, The Romantic Zone, Conchas Chinas or Mismaloya, Hospital CMQ City Center is your nearest urgent care and imaging center. Hospital CMQ City Center´s imaging center and CT scan is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

CT scan in Puerto Vallarta at Hospital CMQ Premiere:

Alternatively, if you are staying in Puerto Vallarta´s central zone, in places such as Fluvial Vallarta, the Hotel Zone, Aralias, Versalles or Marina Vallarta, Hospital CMQ Premiere will be the closest urgent care and imaging center from your location. Hospital CMQ Premiere´s Ct scan is also available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. 

CT scan in Puerto Vallarta at Hospital CMQ Riviera Nayarit:

On the other hand, if you are living or staying in Puerto Vallarta´s beautiful northern shores, in places such as Bucerias, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Sayulita or Punta Mita, Hospital CMQ Riviera Nayarit is definitely your nearest urgent care and CT scan alternative. For your convenience, our urgent care and imaging center is located in Bucerias, Nayarit, and is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

How can I say CT scan in Spanish? If you are in Puerto Vallarta and need this type of study, it will be useful to know the Spanish word for CT scan. The Spanish word for CT scan is “Tomografía”.

How is a Computed Tomography performed?

A CT scan is performed by placing the patient on a narrow examination table that slides into the scanner, and taking and processing cross-sectional images of a body organ or region. Thus, when you decide to come for your CT scan to one of our facilities, you will be asked to put on a hospital gown. In addition, you will be asked to remove all metal objects (objects including dentures, glasses, watches and jewelry), as they interfere with computed tomography results. Subsequently, one of our radiology technicians will ask you to lie on the CT scan table facing up. Once you are set up and comfortable, the radiologist and/or radiology technician will leave the room and will go to the control room. From the control room, they will be able to see you and hear you, and you will be able to communicate with them at all times via an intercom. 

Your CT Scan Study will begin as follows:

The CT scan study will begin, and the table will start to slowly move into the scanner´s ring or gantry. While the table is moving through the scanner, an X-ray machine located inside the gantry will rotate around you, taking many pictures or “slices” of your body. Accordingly, this whole process from start to finish can take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes. During this time, you might hear some faint noises, such as buzzing or cracking due to the above-mentioned rotating process. Most importantly, you will need to lie calm and still during the ct scan study. This is important because if you move while the images are being taken, they can become blurry. Once your study is over, the images will be sent to the control room where our radiologist will process and examine them. Finally, our radiologist will sent the selected and processed images to your treating physician. In Addition, he will give you a CD with your CT scan images and his medical report which will include his clinical observations and findings. Please note that our radiologist, Dr. Cesar Medina, is always available to answer your questions and address any concerns that you may have.

A radiologist is a specialist who is especially trained to diagnose diseases and conditions using radiology studies such as a CT scan, an MRI, an ultrasound or X-rays.

How Much Does a CT Scan in Puerto Vallarta Cost?

You will find that in Mexico, generally speaking, CT scans are a little more affordable in smaller and non-touristic cities, and a bit more expensive in larger cities and tourist destinations. In Puerto Vallarta, prices for CT Scans vary depending on the hospital and/or imaging center where the study is performed. In addition, the price of a CT scan will vary depending on the urgency of the procedure (if it’s a scheduled study or an emergency examination), if it’s a holiday or a weekend, etc.

For your convenience, please find in the table below the average cost of different CT scans at Hospital CMQ in Puerto Vallarta:

CT scan study Price of simple study

(Approximate cost – range of scheduled study. Studies performed on an emergency basis have a higher cost)

Price of study, with contrasted material

(Approximate cost – range of scheduled study. Studies performed on an emergency basis have a higher cost)

CT scan abdomen $4,400 a $5,900 pesos MXN $6,820 a $8,320 pesos MXN
CT scan head $3,695 a $5,195 pesos MXN $4,545 a $6,045 pesos MXN
CT scan brain $3,695 a $5,195 pesos MXN $4,545 a $6,045 pesos MXN
Sinus CT scan $4,260 a $5,760 pesos MXN $5,325 a $6,825 pesos MXN
Chest CT scan $4,118 a $5,618 pesos MXN $6,106 a $7,606 pesos MXN
CT scan of neck $4,189 a $5,689 pesos MXN $5,254 a $6,754 pesos MXN
CT scan liver $9,060 a $10,560 pesos MXN
CT scan for kidney stones $9,060 a $10,560 pesos MXN
Lung CT scan $4,118 a $5,618 pesos MXN $6,106 a $7,606 pesos MXN
CT scan abdomen and pelvis $6,000 a $7,500 pesos MXN $8,800 a $10,300 pesos MXN
Pancreas CT scan $4,400 a $5,900 pesos MXN $6,820 a $8,320 pesos MXN
Angio CT scan $9,060 a $10,560 pesos MXN

** Please note that the above-mentioned costs are approximate and are not actual nor final costs. Please call to make your appointment and inquire about the cost of a specific CT scan study. **

Special pricing available for hotels, restaurants and corporations.

What are the Risks and Side Effects Associated with a CT Scan?

Fortunately, it is worth noting that there are few risks and complications associated with a computed tomography study. Nevertheless, there are some, although very small risks involved:

Radiation risks for pregnant women and babies:

Although radiation risk for pregnant women and their babies is very low, it is always a good option to talk to your doctor about alternative studies such as an MRI or an ultrasound.

Cancer risk caused by CT scan radiation:

The risk of cancer caused by the radiation of this type of equipment is very small if you only have one or two scans per year. However, your risk of getting cancer caused by radiation may increase if you get many CT scans and X-rays in a year.

Allergic reactions to contrast material:

Some people may develop an allergic reaction to contrast material while getting their CT scan (if contrast material is used). Contrast material usually contains iodine, which can cause allergic reactions to some people. Therefore, if you know that you are allergic to iodine or to a substance similar to iodine, please let our radiologist know about it beforehand so he can take the necessary precautions. If this is the case, our radiologist will provide you with an allergy medication to counteract possible allergies and side effects.

CT Scan interpretation and CT Scan Results

First, your CT scan images will be stored in electronic data files which will be transferred from the computed tomography equipment to its control room. Second, your images will be edited, processed and enhanced by our team of radiologists. Once this is done, our radiologist will interpret your CT scan images, and will write a medical report which will include its clinical observations and findings. Finally, he will give you a CD that will contain your CT scan images, and will give you the corresponding medical report. Furthermore, our radiologist will send your results to your treating physician for further discussion and analysis.

Images of CT Scan Results

Head CT Scan

Brain CT scan without contrast showing a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH)

This CT scan study of the brain shows a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. A Subarachnoid Hemorrhage is a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the space surrounding the brain. An SAH is usually caused by a head injury or a ruptured aneurysm, and it can be a life-threatening condition.

Head CT Scan

Brain CT scan without contrast showing a skull fracture

This brain CT scan was made with a special filter that helped evaluate the bone structure of the patient´s skull. Accordingly, this image shows a frontal depressed fracture in the left side of the patient´s skull. In addition, the study shows that the depressed fracture is pressing the brain inwards. Unfortunately, surgical treatment may be needed in this case in order to prevent brain damage.

CT scan 3d rendering image

Three dimensional reconstruction of CT scan

These images show a three dimensional reconstruction of different angles of a skull fracture. Therefore, this type of study helps to evaluate in more detail the exact size of the fracture and the extent to which it’s causing brain compression.

CT scan of a knee

Knee CT scan with multiplanar reconstruction

This knee CT scan with multiplanar reconstruction shows a multi-fragmented Tibial fracture. In addition, one can observe that the Tibial fracture is slightly displaced towards the articular surface.       

What to do after my CT scan in Puerto Vallarta?

Normally after a CT scan study without contrast, you will be able to return to your customary daily routine. Similarly, after a CT scan study with contrast, you will be able to go back to your daily routine, but you will have to follow some recommendations.

For example, our radiologist might ask you to wait for a while after your CT scan, to make sure that you are feeling well and that you don’t develop any reaction to the Optiray contrast material. In addition, he will ask you to drink plenty of liquids after your study. Drinking lots of water will help your kidneys get rid of the contrast material that was given to you.

Frequently Asked Questions about CT Scan Studies

Usually a CT scan study will take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes. In certain cases, however, a CT scan can take up to 30 minutes.

A CT scan shows bidimensional images of your bones, blood vessels, soft tissues and internal organs. In specific studies, CT scan images are processed and reconstructed in order to create tridimensional images of the needed body parts.

A CT scan is used for diagnosing diseases and conditions, or as an aid in the diagnosis of certain diseases and conditions, such as injuries to internal organs, damaged bones, blood flow problems, strokes and cancer.

Although a CT scan might not be able to detect cancer in its very early stages, as an MRI can, it can indeed detect cancer. A CT scan can detect conditions like cancer, liver masses, heart disease and strokes.

Although both an MRI and a CT scan are used to take images from within your body, there are several differences between these two studies. Perhaps the most important difference is that a CT scan uses X-rays to capture images, while an MRI uses radio waves produced by a magnet. Therefore, CT scans produce and emit radiation while MRIs do not. Furthermore, MRIs are able to produce more detailed images of internal organs and soft tissue than CT scans. On the other hand, Ct scans are quicker, less expensive and unlike MRIs, they rarely cause claustrophobia.

This would depend on the type of CT scan that you will have. If you will have a CT scan without contrast, you can eat before your study. However, if you are having a CT scan with contrast material, than you should not eat for at least eight hours prior to your appointment.

Preferably, you should drink at least eight glasses of water during the day, and at least one right after your study. This will help you get rid of the contrast material that was used in your computed tomography.  

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