What is a Computed Tomography Scan?
A Computed Tomography Scan (also called a CAT scan or CT) 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:
- 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, detect blood clots, detect spinal injuries and problems with disks in the spinal column. CT may be 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.
How do I prepare?
Preparation may vary slightly depending on the area of the body being examined. Some individuals undergoing a CT examination must complete a four-hour fast prior to the test, to maximize your safety and comfort. Low osmolar (or non-ionic) contrast dye is often used during the exam. The four-hour fast helps ensure the best quality test results. You should, however, continue taking all medications as prescribed by your physician.
Wear comfortable clothing with no metal. Bring your physician's orders, insurance card and picture I.D. with you. For your convenience, parking is available in the garage connected directly to our Center for Advanced Imaging across the street from the main hospital. Upon entering the Center, report to the Registration area located on the first floor. After registering for your test, you will be escorted to the radiology reception area where a technologist will provide you further instructions about your procedure.
Family members are invited to stay in our waiting area for the duration of your procedure.
Please note: If you are allergic to iodine or seafood, or have had a previous reaction to any contrast dye, you should inform your physician before your exam. You should also inform the CT staff if you are:
- allergic to other medications
have kidney problems
Click on your exam name below to view detailed prep instructions
What can I expect?
You will remove clothing worn over the area being examined and put on a dressing gown. A technologist will take and review your medical history and explain the examination. You will be asked to lie down on a cushioned table connected to the CT.
An IV line will be started so that an intravenous contrast solution can be used if necessary. A contrast material containing iodine may be injected into the bloodstream to enhance the view of blood vessels and blood flow in your 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 IV or oral contrast from your body. All contrast materials will leave your body within 24 hours of the CT scan.
When can I expect results?
The results of your exam will be faxed to your physician within 48 hours. Please contact your physician for your test results. If your physician ordered a stat exam, you may be asked to remain in the department until your physician has been informed of your results.
How do I schedule a CT?
To schedule a CT, call Central Scheduling at 847.723.5050.