Sinus CT scan

Sinus CT Scan: Everything You Need to Know

A sinus CT scan is a painless, noninvasive imaging procedure used to help diagnose sinus and nasal conditions. The scan helps doctors identify anatomical features of the sinus cavities, such as sinusitis or polyps, as well as provide evidence for the presence of other conditions, such as tumors. Learn more about this useful procedure and how it works.

What Is a Sinus CT Scan?

A sinus CT scan is a type of computed tomography (CT) scan of the sinus cavities. It’s a noninvasive procedure that uses X-rays to take multiple pictures of the sinuses from different angles. The CT scan process combines these images into a detailed 3D image of the inside of the body that can be studied by your doctor.

Why Might I Need a Sinus CT Scan?

There are a few different reasons why your doctor may recommend a sinus CT scan. You’ll likely get a scan if your doctor suspects that you may have a sinus infection or condition, such as acute or chronic sinusitis, or if they want to rule out any conditions.

Other possible reasons for getting a scan include diagnosing recurrent nose bleeds, growths, tumors, a foreign body stuck in the nasal cavity, or to identify structural changes due to allergies.

What Are the Types of Sinus CT Scan?

There are two types of sinus CT scan: axial view and coronal view. The axial view is the most common type, taking a cross-sectional view of the sinuses that highlights soft tissue and structures. The coronal view is more focused and provides a direct view of the sinuses.

How Should I Prepare for a Sinus CT Scan?

Before getting a sinus CT scan, you'll need to prepare for the scan. Your doctor will provide instructions on what to do prior to the scan. The usual preparation process includes:

  • Avoid eating several hours before your scan.
  • Don’t drink anything that contains caffeine prior to the scan.
  • Let your doctor know if you’re pregnant or have an implanted medical device such as a pacemaker.
  • Don’t wear any jewelry or metal items during the scan.
  • You may be asked to remove any hearing aids, dentures, jewelry, eyewear, and to wear a hospital gown during the scan.

What Can I Expect During the Procedure?

The sinus CT scan procedure usually takes about 10 minutes. You’ll be asked to lie down on a table and place your head in the middle of a large open-ended donut-shaped scanner. You’ll need to keep your head still while the machine takes images. The machine will make noise during the scan, but the table is usually slightly tilted, so you won’t experience any discomfort.

What Are the Risks of a Sinus CT Scan?

Sinus CT scans are generally safe and are not associated with any major risks or complications. The procedure uses a low dose of radiation, which is quickly absorbed by the body. Some people experience a mild amount of discomfort, such as a slight burning sensation, due to the radiation exposure.

When Will I Get Results from My Sinus CT Scan?

The results from a sinus CT scan are usually available the same day or the next day. The images are sent to a doctor specializing in radiology, who will interpret the images and provide a detailed report to your doctor.

Using the information provided in the report, your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and determine an appropriate treatment plan.


A sinus CT scan is a painless and noninvasive imaging procedure that can help your doctor identify conditions affecting the sinuses and nasal cavities. The procedure typically doesn’t take more than 10 minutes and doesn’t involve any discomfort or risk of complications. Results from the scan are usually available the same or the next day.