How to Prepare for an Abdominal CT Scan

September 29, 2022 – 3 min read

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If you experience abdominal pain or other issues in your abdomen, your doctor might order an abdominal CT scan. A CT scan can give your doctor detailed pictures of structures in the abdomen, including blood vessels, internal organs and soft tissues. But you might be wondering what types of conditions your doctor is looking for and how to prepare for the day of your scan.

What your doctor can diagnose with an abdominal CT scan

Your doctor might order an abdominal and/or pelvic CT scan if he or she suspects any of the following conditions:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Appendicitis or inflammation of the appendix
  • Cancers of the liver, pancreas, kidneys, bladder and ovaries
  • Digestive issues, such as ulcers, hiatal hernias or gastroenteritis
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as diverticulitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Kidney problems, such as kidney stones or infections

Touchstone Medical Imaging offers advanced outpatient CT imaging to help doctors discern the cause of abdominal conditions. After receiving an order for a CT scan from your doctor, make an appointment at the Touchstone Medical Imaging center most convenient for you.

Preparing for your abdominal CT scan

On the day of your CT scan, you’ll need to take several steps to prepare, including these:

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Leave metal objects, such as jewelry, at home.
  • If your scan involves contrast dye, follow your doctor’s recommendation about when to stop eating and drinking before the scan.
  • Take or stop medications as directed by your doctor.
  • Tell the Touchstone Medical Imaging team if you have any medical conditions.

What to expect the day of the scan

When you arrive at Touchstone Medical Imaging for your CT scan, a technologist will greet you after you check in for your appointment. They’ll let you know exactly what will happen and happily allay any concerns.

If your test requires a contrast dye, you will first drink the contrast material or the technologist will administer it through an IV in your arm. If you have the oral contrast, it might leave a temporary metallic taste in your mouth.

Your technologist will guide you to lie on the CT scanner table, which will slide in and out of the scanner. An electronic X-ray detector will rotate around you to capture images. Your technologist might ask you to hold your breath at times during the scan to prevent blurred images.

An abdominal CT scan usually takes about 30 minutes to complete. A board-certified radiologist will read the results and send them to your doctor promptly, often the same day.

Safety of CT scans

CT scans are quite safe for most patients. You will receive a very small dose of radiation from the X-rays. Allergic reactions to the contrast material can happen but are very rare. However, it’s important to tell your doctor about your health history, including any allergies and prior imaging studies, before your CT scan.

Touchstone Medical Imaging provides convenient, cost-effective outpatient imaging in a caring environment. After receiving an order from your doctor for an abdominal CT scan, contact your local Touchstone Medical Imaging center to schedule an appointment.