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CT Scan Information

Imaging Division

We offer a full range of diagnostic imaging, and our staff offers unparalleled expertise. Your care will be handled by a skilled board-certified radiologist that specializes in GI exams.

CT Scan

A "CT Scan," also known as a "Computerized Tomogram," or CAT scan, is a noninvasive type of x-ray that generates images of bones, soft-tissues, the pelvis, blood vessels, the lungs, the brain, and abdomen. These images help physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions that may not be visible on other types of studies. A CT scanner uses advanced x-ray technology to take pictures of your body. Immediately after it scans your body, a computer in the scanner reconstructs the data into cross-sectional pictures of your body, called slices or sections. The images are viewed on a computer monitor by our radiologist and discussed with your physician. CT scans allow our radiologist and your physician the ability to see more than what a regular x-ray would provide. Tests results are available within minutes. An earlier diagnosis with higher quality images results in an earlier and accurate treatment plan.

Common Questions

Why are CT scans important?
CT scans enable doctors to see high quality images of your internal organs on a computer screen. CT scans can potentially help your doctor see the cause of your symptoms and any injuries to organs which allows the physician to rule in or rule out certain diseases and recommend the best treatment for you. A CT scan will tell the doctor whether the patient has a tumor or if organs are swollen and inflamed. This critical information can be provided to your doctor, often more quickly and economically compared with other tests.

Why would I get a CT scan instead of an MRI scan?
A CT scan is significantly faster than an MRI scan. Therefore, areas in your body that move in short periods of time, like your bowel, are better evaluated with a CT scan. A CT scan shows organ injuries or tears more quickly so it may be the best choice if you may have been injured in an accident.

Exam Preparation

Get the guidelines.

What should I eat or drink?
You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours beforehand, especially if a contrast material is going to be used in your exam. You should inform your physician of any medications you are taking and if you have any allergies. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Also inform your doctor of any recent illnesses or other medical conditions, such as a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, or thyroid problems. Any of these conditions may increase the risk of an unusual adverse effect.

Can I take my medications before a CT scan?
Yes, you can take your medications before the CT scan, with the exception of certain medicines for diabetes. Consult your doctor before the CT scan for any instructions.

What if I am allergic to IV contrast material?
Tell your doctor if you have allergies to contrast materials, food, drug, dyes, preservatives or animals. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your exam.

What should I wear?
You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. Certain exams may require you to wear a gown, which we will provide. Metal objects including jewelry, glasses, dentures, and hair accessories may affect the CT images and should be left at home or removed prior to your exam. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids and removable dental work.

I am claustrophobic, will I be able to have a scan?
That shouldn't be a problem but make your physician or radiographer aware. A CT Scanner is an open machine not a tunnel like an MRI scanner. You are not enclosed in the scanner and, as a result, you see completely around yourself.

What should I bring to my appointment?
In order for us to perform your test, you will need to bring your prescription, insurance card, and any related insurance forms or pre-approvals.

When should I arrive for my appointment?
When your schedule your appointment, our scheduling associate will let you know how soon before your appointment time you should arrive. Depending on the exact type of exam, this may be 30-60 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This will allow time for registration and to complete all necessary paperwork, forms, and questionnaires. To save time, you may download, print, and fill out the appropriate forms at home and bring them with you on the day of your appointment. If you are having a CT scan of your abdomen or pelvis, you will need to arrive 1 hour before your appointment. You will be asked to drink oral content material (either barium, iodine, or water) and to wait for one hour before the examination, which gives the oral contrast enough time to coat your stomach and small intestine. In some medical conditions and types of study, you may be asked to drink one bottle of barium sulfate at bedtime the night before the study.

Will I have to drink something (oral contrast) for my scan and why?
Some abdominal CT scans require the administration of water or oral contrast material to allow the radiologist to evaluate your bowel and also to separate bowel from other important structures. Oral contrast materials may be made with barium or iodine. Barium-based contrast material is a thick white flavored drink similar to a milk shake. Iodine-based contrast material is a concentrate mixed with water or juice. For optimal imaging, approximately one liter of oral contrast material should be consumed during the hour prior to your scan.

What if I might be pregnant? Women should always make their physician and the CT technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests and contrast material are avoided during pregnancy to prevent harm to the baby.

Will I need an IV (Intravenous) for CT scan?

Your physician and the radiologist will determine if IV contrast material will be needed for your CT scan. IV contrast material containing iodine is used to highlight organs and blood vessels that are otherwise difficult to visualize. If IV contrast material is required for your CT scan, a small IV will be placed in your arm or hand prior to the CT scan.

Is the intravenous contrast for the CT scan safe?
It is safe for most patients, but there are some risks with the intravenous contrast. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire prior to your CT scan, and your risk factors for an adverse reaction to contrast will be reviewed. The risks of the intravenous contrast will be discussed with you further just prior to your study. Please bring a list of your medical conditions and medications at the time of your study. There is a risk that the contrast can further injure the kidneys if you have a history of kidney disease – patients with risk factors for kidney disease will need recent lab tests (Creatinine blood level) prior to the study. A creatinine test can be obtained in the Radiology suite if you have not had a recent blood test. There is also a risk of an allergic reaction to the contrast – this risk is increased if you have a history of active uncontrolled asthma, if you have a history of a prior allergic reaction to contrast, and if you have a history of a life-threatening reaction to any allergen or medication. Please notify your referring physician prior to scheduling your CT scan appointment if you have such risk factors -- your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

During your CT Scan

Our CT Technologist will take you into the CT Scanner room. Here, you will be positioned on the table, which will move into the doughnut-shaped portion of the CT Scanner. At this point, the CT technologist will exit the room. Through an intercom system, you and the technologist will always be able to speak with one another. The technologist will let you know when the pictures are going to be taken – during this time, you will need to hold still, as moving will cause images to be blurry. The technologist will give you specific breathing instructions; for example, you may be asked to hold your breath or to breathe quietly. As the scanner takes the pictures, the table will slide through the scanner and then back out.

How long does a CT scan take? The exam length depends on the type of scan that has been ordered for you. Most patients will be scanned in less than 10 minutes however your exam will fit your needs. We will communicate with you throughout the exam and let you know if additional images need to be taken.

What happens when the intravenous contrast is given?
During the injection, you may feel a warm sensation, and you may also get a metallic taste in your mouth. These should last only for a few minutes.


After your CT scan

Once your scan is completed, you may resume your regular diet and activities. We recommend that you drink plenty of non-alcoholic, decaffeinated fluids, such as water or juice, to help your body flush out any IV or oral contrast material.

How will I know the results of my CT scan?
After your CT scan, our subspecialized radiologist will read the images and dictate a report that will be sent to your doctor, who will contact you with the results.