Your doctor has referred you for a diagnostic procedure known as a CT scan or “CAT scan”.
- The exam is an efficient, quick and comfortable outpatient procedure which helps your doctor obtain information to evaluate your medical condition.
- By using computerized processing of x-rays, CT imaging produces cross-sectional pictures of the body.
How CT imaging works:
- Computed tomography, called CT or CAT scanning, is an advanced x-ray system. It produces detailed cross-sectional images of the body.
- CT imaging is the preferred method for evaluating many medical conditions. It is used primarily to study the head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis and spine.
- The CT machine has an x-ray tube which moves in a circle around the body. The information collected is processed by a computer to generate cross-sectional pictures as though they were “slices” through the part of the body being studied.
- These pictures are then analyzed by one of our radiologists and sent, along with a report, to your physician to become part of your permanent medical record.
Preparation for the Examination:
You may drink clear liquids, and you should continue taking all prescribed medications as usual. If your exam includes:
- Head, Neck, or Chest: No solid foods 2 hours prior to the examination. Arrive approximately 20 to 30 minutes early.
- Abdomen or Pelvis: No solid foods 4 hours prior to the examination. Arrive approximately 20 to 30 minutes early. It may be necessary to drink an oral contrast before you exam. If your referring Physician’s office provided you with a contrast, follow the instructions given to you.
- Sinus or Spine: No special preparation is needed.
If you are a diabetic and are taking prescribed medication please call ahead for instructions.
What to expect:
- You will be asked to remove glasses, jewelry, dentures, hearing aids or other objects which might interfere with x-rays. You may be asked to change into comfortable clothing which we provide for your examination.
- In the imaging room, you will be helped onto a padded table which will move during the study to position you for the pictures.
- Most CT examinations of the abdomen and pelvis require an oral contrast agent, to better see the anatomy of the stomach and bowel. You will be asked to drink this contrast liquid one or two hours before the study.
- Examinations of the head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis often require an intravenous contrast agent. This is given as an injection during the study.
- The examination itself usually takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending on what part(s) of the body are being studied. While you are being scanned, you may hear humming or clicking sounds from the CT machine. The table moves to position you for the images.
- Your job during the examination is simply to relax and not move. The quality of your CT study depends on your ability to hold still. Just like a picture photograph, the medical image will blur if you move.