Follow these instructions to ensure a smooth appointment.

Prepare for Your Appointment

In preparing for a CT scan, fluids and food may be restricted for several hours prior to the examination, especially when contrast material is to be used. Contrast material may be injected intravenously, or administered orally to increase the distinction between various organs or areas of the body. All metallic materials and certain clothing around the body are removed because they can interfere with the clarity of the images.

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure.  You’ll be asked to remove your jewelry, hearing aids and eyeglasses. Objects with metal may affect the CT images.  If a contrast material or dye is used in your exam, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours beforehand.  You’ll be asked about medications, allergies, recent illnesses and your medical history as some conditions may increase the risk of an unusual adverse effect.

If you are claustrophobic or staying still for a length of time will cause you pain, talk to your doctor in advance about a mild sedative.

What to Expect

CT exams are painless, fast and easy. The CT scanner is a box-like machine with a short tunnel in the center and a narrow examination table that slides into and out of this tunnel. The scanners and detectors form a ring that will rotate around you. The technologist will operate the scanner and monitor your examination from a separate windowed room, but you’ll be in two-way communication with the technologist the entire time.

The Process

  • The technologist begins by positioning you on the CT examination table so that you can be examined
  • If used, the contrast material will be injected through an IV or given orally
  • Next, the correct starting position will be set for the scans
  • The table will move through the tunnel very slowly as the scanning takes place
  • You will hear buzzing, clicking and whirring sounds as the CT scanner revolves around you
  • The scan takes anywhere from five to 30 minutes

Common Applictions

  • one of the fastest and most accurate tools for examining the chest, abdomen and pelvis because it provides detailed, cross-sectional views of all types of tissue.
  • used to examine patients with injuries from trauma such as a motor vehicle accident.
  • performed on patients with acute symptoms such as chest or abdominal pain or difficulty breathing.
  • often the best method for detecting many different cancers, such as lymphoma and cancers of the lung, liver, kidney, ovary and pancreas, since the image allows a physician to confirm the presence of a tumor and measure its size, precise location and the extent of the tumor’s involvement with other nearby tissue.
  • an examination that plays a significant role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of vascular diseases that can lead to stroke, kidney failure or even death. CT is commonly used to assess for pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung vessels) as well as for aortic aneurysms.
  • invaluable in diagnosing and treating spinal problems and injuries to the hands, feet and other skeletal structures because it can clearly show even very small bones as well as surrounding tissues such as muscle and blood vessels.

Physicians often use the CT examination to:

  • quickly identify injuries to the lungs, heart and vessels, liver, spleen, kidneys, bowel or other internal organs in cases of trauma.
  • guide biopsies and other procedures such as abscess drainages and minimally invasive tumor treatments.
  • plan for and assess the results of surgery, such as organ transplants or gastric bypass.
  • stage, plan and properly administer radiation treatments for tumors as well as monitor response to chemotherapy.
  • measure bone mineral density for the detection of osteoporosis.

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