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What is a Computed Tomography scan?

A Computed Tomography scan (also called a CT scan) is a non-invasive procedure that uses advanced X-ray technology to provide detailed images of the inside of the human body. Cross-sectional views produced by the CT enable physicians to see and evaluate multiple structures in all areas of the body, such as:

  • brain
  • heart
  • kidneys
  • liver
  • lungs
  • lymphnodes
  • ovaries
  • pancreas
  • prostate
  • sinuses
  • spine
  • spleen
  • vascular imaging (veins and arteries) 

When is CT used?

CT provides a detailed view inside the body's organs and tissues, so it can be used to identify sources of internal pain, diagnose internal growths and tumors, and detect blood clots. CT is often used to help localize radiation treatment for cancer and help surgeons prepare for surgery by providing a look inside the area where the procedure will be performed.

What can I expect?

You will remove clothing worn over the area being examined and put on a dressing gown. A technologist will review your medical history and explain the examination. You will be asked to lie down on a cushioned table connected to the CT. If you have difficulty lying down or remaining still because of pain, you may wish to speak with your physician before the CT scan about the possible benefits of pain medication for the exam.

If necessary, an intravenous (IV) line will be started so that contrast solution can be used. The contrast solution is injected into the bloodstream to enhance the view of blood vessels and blood flow in your body. You may also be asked to drink a contrast solution which helps visualize specific parts of the body.

While you will be alone in the exam room, the technologist will be able to communicate with you throughout the exam. The table will begin moving through the CT's donut-shaped ring. You will hear mechanical noises as pictures are taken and data is collected by the scanner. It is important to remain as motionless as possible during the CT exam, as any movement will affect the quality of the image produced.

The exam usually takes about 20 minutes to complete. Because sedation is not needed for this exam, you will be able to leave, eat or drive as soon as the exam is over. Following the CT, it is important to increase your water intake to help flush the contrast solution from your body. Both contrast materials will leave your body within 24 hours of the CT scan.

When can I expect results?

The results of your exam typically will be ready for your physician within 48 hours. Please allow 7 - 10 days for your physician to receive and review your test results. If you do not receive results after 14 days, please be sure to contact the physician who ordered the test.

How do I schedule a CT?

To schedule a CT, please call 630.275.APPT (2778).

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