Computed Tomography examinations or CT scans are sometimes called CAT scans (computed axial tomography). CT scans are a noninvasive way of seeing inside the body using X-rays and powerful computers. Images produced are cross sections or thin slices through the body part being examined, much like a loaf of bread is sliced. The thin slices can then be manipulated by computers into other views, including 3-dimensional views. Amazing 3D images of your body including the blood vessels, gastrointestinal tract and spine can be obtained. The detailed images obtained with CT allow radiologists to see inside the body and to noninvasively diagnose diseases with great speed and accuracy changing and improving medical care. CT scans are an important tool in the evaluation of trauma, congenital abnormalities, vascular irregularities, infection, inflammation and tumors. CT scans can be done for any part of the body and can be tailored to evaluate specific patient problems.
For examinations of the abdomen and pelvis you may be asked to drink an oral contrast agent. Oral contrast allows us to better see and evaluate the gastrointestinal tract and adjacent tissues. Oral contrast is usually well-tolerated by our patients.
For many studies, IV injection of a contrast agent containing iodine may be required. IV contrast allows us to see blood vessels and assess solid tissues and organs better. During the injection, the IV contrast causes a slight warming sensation throughout the body.
If you have had a prior reaction or are allergic to the oral or IV contrast material, are pregnant, or have kidney problems, please alert our schedulers and the technologists who are caring for you.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Prior to the start of the examination, a registered technologist will explain the test, and you may be asked to change into a gown. You will then be positioned comfortably on the CT table and asked to hold still briefly to avoid blurring as the images are acquired. The table moves through the short donut shaped machine while the images are being taken.
In the CT suite, you will be in full view of the technologist and will be in constant communication. A CT scan takes only minutes to complete. Depending on the body part being examined and the clinical question, several sequences or series through the body may be taken.
TIPS FOR AN EXCELLENT CT SCAN
Wear comfortable clothes – you may be asked to change into a gown, depending on the body part being studied.
Avoid metal on clothing and jewelry as these will need to be removed as these can interfere with the images.
Relax. The exam is only minutes long and requires holding still for only a brief time.
Communicate. Your radiologist and technologist are there to answer any of your questions.
Patients receiving an intravenous (IV) contrast injection should not eat or drink at least two hours prior to your study. For those patients that will receive an oral contrast material, you should not eat or drink at least four hours before your scan.
Patients allergic to CT contrast or those with prior reactions to the contrast, who are pregnant, and those with kidney problems should notify the person scheduling the examination and the technologist.