DEFINITION: Computerized tomography (CT) scanning combines special X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images of the inside of the body. A series of X-rays are taken from many different angles that produce cross-sectional images of your bones and soft tissues. CT scan images provide much more information than plain X-rays and are an efficient, painless exam.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT: Before your CT, you may be asked to remove your clothing and change into a hospital gown. You will need to remove any metal objects, such as jewelry, that might interfere with imaging. CT scanners are shaped like a large doughnut standing on its side. You will be asked to lie on a narrow table that slides into the “doughnut hole” or gantry. As the X-ray tube rotates around your body, the table slowly moves through the gantry. While the table is moving, you may need to hold your breath to avoid blurring the images.
A technologist will be watching you from the next room and you will be able to communicate with him or her via intercom, should you need any assistance during the scan. CT scans only take a few minutes.
HOW TO PREPARE: To properly visualize some areas, you may need to fast for a period of time beforehand or receive contrast orally or intravenously. Movement blurs the images and may lead to inaccurate results. Ask your doctor how best to prepare if you think you may have issues remaining still during the exam.
- IF YOUR SCAN REQUIRES CONTRAST: All CT patients scheduled for abdomen, pelvis, adrenals, liver, retro, pancreas or kidney scans must drink oral contrast as follows: by 8 p.m. the night before the appointment (if the appointment is scheduled before noon the following day) or by 7 a.m. the same day (if the appointment is scheduled after noon). Also, the patient must not eat or drink for four hours prior to the procedure.
- Do not drink oral contrast for CT kidney scans if you have a diagnosis of kidney stones.
- The oral contrast prep can be picked up Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at both of our diagnostic centers or at your physician’s office during business hours.
- Patients scheduled for CT enterography (images of the small bowel) must not eat or drink anything, including medications, for four hours prior to the procedure. Patients must report to the diagnostic center at least one hour prior to the appointment time. At this time, they will be given 16 ounces of water and a contrast agent to drink over the course of the hour before the test. Patients may empty their bladder prior to the scan.
- Patients scheduled for CT rogram (images of the urinary tract) must not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the scan.
RESULTS: One of our specially trained radiologists will review the images from your scan and generate a report of any findings. Either the doctor who performed your test or the doctor who asked you to have a CT angiogram will discuss the results of the test with you.