A CT scan, also known as a CAT scan or Computed Tomography, is a special kind of X-ray that takes pictures of a cross-section of a part of your body. CT scans may be used to find certain changes inside your body that regular X-rays cannot find. The CT scanner is comprised of an X-ray tube that moves around your body, and then sends signals to a computer that uses those signals to create an image.
CT scans without contrast usually do not require special preparation. It is important that you notify us if you are, or think you might be, pregnant. If your CT requires IV or oral contrast, you may be told not to eat or drink for four hours before the exam. You can, however, take any prescription medication you might need with a small sip of water during this time. Before the scan, it is important that you let us know if you have ever had an allergic reaction to X-ray dye or if you are allergic to iodine. If you are diabetic, please let us know if you are taking Glucophage, Glucovancel, or Metformin. If so, the staff will ask you to stop taking your medication for 48 hours after the CT. Additionally, your doctor will give you any special instructions that you may need prior to your scheduled CT appointment.
On some Abdominal CT scans, you may be asked to drink contrast material. If your referring physician needs to order an Abdominal CT scan with an oral (by mouth) contrast, you may be asked to arrive an hour before your scan so you have enough time to drink the contrast before the CT is performed.
Be sure to follow the instructions and feel free to ask questions if you do not fully understand the preparation requirements.
We recommend that you wear comfortable, athletic-style clothing without metal fasteners. You may need to wear an exam gown during the study because snaps, zippers, hooks, belt buckles, and any other metal objects on your clothing could affect the quality of the images.
During the scan, you will lie on a comfortable padded table that is connected to the CT scanner. The table will move a short distance every few seconds to position you in the scanner. The machine will not touch you and the scan should be painless. It is very important that you lie completely still during the scan. If you receive contrast through an IV, it will be given at this time. If your scan requires an IV contrast material (dye) it will be used to outline blood vessels or organs to make them easier to see. You may feel a brief flush or a metallic taste in your mouth from the contrast. This should pass. Should you have any discomfort during the test or after the injection, inform the technologist. The average time for any CT exam is 5 – 10 minutes, however the exam could take longer depending on the protocol required.
You will be free to leave the facility and resume normal activities as your health permits. A radiologist reads your MRI, and the results are reported directly back to your doctor.