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CT Scan

CT (CAT) scan

CT scan

A CT scan is the term used to describe a radiologic test known as " computerized tomography." Computed refers to the use of a computer to create the image. Tomography refers to the fact that the images are of a plane of an area inside your body, like a single piece of bread from the middle of the loaf.

The CT scanner is a doughnut-shaped machine that takes pictures of cross-sections of the body, called "slices." An X-ray tube moves in a circular fashion around the area being scanned. The rays are picked up on a scanner, fed into a computer and seen on a computer screen.

CT can look inside the brain and other parts of the body, into areas that cannot be seen on regular X-ray examinations. CT makes it possible to diagnose certain diseases earlier and more accurately than other imaging tools. Because most diseases are better treated in the early stages, CT scans can help save lives.

Preappointment

Let your technologist know about any of the following:

  • Allergies or asthma
  • Latex allergies or sensitivity
  • Kidney problems
  • Diabetic and other medicines you take (you may be required to have a blood test prior to your scan)
  • You are or think you may be pregnant
  • You are breastfeeding
  • You ate or drank before the exam
  • Previous reactions to contrast agents

Patient experience

CT scan

An imaging procedure typically lasts 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of information requested by your physician. For the best quality image, you need to be as still as possible during the exam. Just relax and breathe normally. You will lie on a bed that slides into a doughnut-shaped machine. 

Your exam will be performed by a registered radiologic technologist. To enhance the CT image, you may be given a contrast agent through an intravenous (IV) line or by injection. The technologist is always nearby to assist you. 

Patient preparation

You must have with you:

  • Previous X-rays if requested by your doctor's office 
  • Complete insurance information including your insurance card 

For a head or neck CT:

Do not eat or drink anything two hours before the exam.

For an abdomen, chest or pelvic CT:

Do not eat or drink anything during the two hours before the exam. You may be asked to drink an oral contrast agent at 1-1/2 hours and then again 45 minutes before the exam which helps to outline the stomach and intestinal track in the image.

For a spine CT:

You have no restrictions on eating or drinking, unless instructed otherwise. Continue to take any medication prescribed by your doctor unless you have been given other instructions. Make yourself comfortable during the exam. You will be able to see and hear a technologist throughout the exam.

Post-exam

Your CT images will be interpreted by a board certified radiologist and the findings will be sent to your physician. Please follow up with your physician for results.

For general radiology information, please call 763-236-4150.