Computerized Tomography (CT Scan)
Computerized tomography (sometimes called a CT or CAT scan) is a highly advanced diagnostic procedure that uses x-rays which are enhanced by a computer. Unlike normal x-rays, CT scans can make pictures of areas surrounded by bone and can show less dense tissues like organs and blood vessels. CT scans are much clearer than ordinary x-rays and, as a result, CT scans can often detect certain problems at an earlier stage.
Before the procedure you will be asked to change from your street clothes into a hospital gown. Your CT scan will be performed by a specially trained technologist. He or she may have a few questions for you before the scan begins. Please answer as accurately as possible.
Before Your Test Begins
Let the technologist know if you're pregnant or you think you might be.
In some exams a special liquid, known as "contrast," is used to enhance the image of the organ or area being examined. The contrast may be swallowed or injected, depending on the type of scan you are having. A small percentage of patients have a reaction to the contrast and may need medication to alleviate their symptoms. There is always a physician within the area to care for you if the need arises. If you have a known allergy to the contrast used in a CT scan, please let your physician know before arriving for your appointment.
If You Are Scheduled for an Abdominal Scan
Please eat no solid food for at least 4 hours before the exam. You may have small amounts of clear liquids and take necessary medications. You will be asked to drink some of the special contrast that is used to enhance the image of the bowel on the CT scan. The contrast may be given to you at your physician's office, or you may be asked to pick it up at the radiology office at Deaconess. Instructions will be given to you at the time you receive the contrast solution.
During Your Examination
The technologist will position you on the padded table and make you as comfortable as possible. It's very important that you remain still during the CT scan. Even slight movement can result in blurry images and may make it necessary to take more images. However, the table itself will move during the exam to position you for the next image.
The scanning chamber is open at both ends. You will enter the chamber either head-first or feet-first, depending upon the area of your body to be scanned. Claustrophobia is usually not a problem in CT scanning, because the opening in the CT machine is relatively large, and the entire body is never totally within the chamber. Please tell the technologists if you experience any uneasiness, and they will take whatever steps they can to help you feel less anxious.
If your physician has requested it, the contrast solution described above will be administered through an intravenous injection, similar to what you experience when you have a blood test. You will probably feel a warm flush throughout your body, and you may have a funny taste in your mouth as the solution is injected.
As the scan begins, you'll hear some humming, buzzing or clicking sounds and feel the table move. Do not be alarmed. The noise and table movement are a necessary and normal part of the exam. During the test you may be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time. The entire procedure will take approximately 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of exam being performed.
If you have been given contrast material, you will receive some simple instructions to follow when you leave the hospital. A physician specially trained in CT will interpret your study and send the results to your doctor, who will discuss the results with you.
Following Your Exam
Questions about your upcoming procedure? Contact your primary physician or call the Radiology front desk at 812-450-3471.