Computer Tomography (CT) Scan
What Is It?
Computed tomography, known as CT or CAT scan, is a painless diagnostic method that uses a specialized form of X-ray along with computer technology to process cross-sectioning images of the human body. CT produces digital images (slices) of soft tissue, organs, bone and blood vessels in any area of your body. These scans are used to diagnose tumors, cancers, heart disease, vascular conditions, brain disorders, traumatic injuries and various other abnormalities within the body. It is important to note that our scanner is not like MRI, it is not loud, and is shaped like doughnut. CT scans also are used to guide a number of minimally invasive procedures, such as needle biopsies and fluid drainage. On average a routine CT exam can take between 10 to 20 minutes.
It is always important to be prepared for your exam so we can expedite your exam within a timely manner. It is Ok to use the bathroom before you are called for your exam. You will be asked to complete a questionnaire regarding your symptoms, medical history and medication allergies.
How to Dress
You may be asked to change into a gown. If you do not wish to change your clothes for the procedure, please wear a loose type of clothing that has no metal.
DO NOT eat anything for four hours before your CT Scan.
You are allowed to have fluids unless you have been instructed not to by a nurse or Doctor. Some CT procedures require the use of a safe contrast media. Contrast often referred to as a dye allows the different shades of gray seen in the imaging to highlight certain organs bright white to see abnormalities. Contrast can be administered in various ways by injection (IV), Orally (Drinking) and rectally (enema).
Getting Contrast through the IV allows the doctors to the blood vessels & vasculature throughout your body.
It is normal for the IV contrast to cause a hot flash feeling in the face & throat, maybe a metallic taste in the mouth. Finally the warm feeling will move down to your pelvis causing you to feel like you have to urinate. This is a normal reaction to the IV (Iodine) contrast. This feeling will only last a minute or so.
It is important to tell the Technologist if you have had a history of an adverse reaction (allergy) to contrast or if you have had a history of Renal Failure!!! If you are allergic & know this before your test, Contact your ordering doctor about being premedicated before the test. A premedication protocol has to be started 1 day before you have the exam with IV contrast.
Oral Contrast (Drinking)
While drinking the contrast can sometimes be unpleasant, when required it is extremely important to the success of your exam. The Oral Contrast highlights your Digestive system bright white so various abnormalities can be detected. Just a few examples are. -Bowel obstruction, Appendicitis, Colon Cancer. Without the oral contrast it is hard to diagnose several diseases.
Rectal Contrast (enema)
If you are unable to tolerate the oral contrast or if your digestion is slow moving, you maybe required to have an enema with the contrast.
It is important to tell the Technologist if you have had a history of an adverse reaction (allergy) to contrast. Female patients need to tell the Technologist if they are pregnant or if there is a possibility of pregnancy.
Some Exams that may require Contrast
If you are to get contrast with your exam it depends on how your ordering doctor wanted the test. While there are always exceptions, here is a list of exams done routinely with contrast.
- Abdominal/ Pelvis – with IV & Oral Contrast (enema if needed)
- Pelvis for non fracture – with IV & Oral Contrast (enema if needed)
- Appendicitis protocol – with IV & Oral Contrast (enema if needed)
- Chest PE protocol – with IV Contrast
- Routine Chest with contrast – with IV Contrast
- Soft tissue Neck – with IV Contrast
- Orbits – with IV Contrast
- IAC’s – with IV Contrast
- Any Angio/ 3D imaging – with IV Contrast
What will be expected of me during the exam?
A Technologist will ask you to lie still on a table either head first or feet first depending on your exam. Your technologist will leave the room before the imaging begins. The table will move slowly through the scanner several times. The technologist will monitor you during the short scanning process and give any necessary directions, such as holding your breath momentarily, through the intercom. It is very important to hold still throughout your exam to decrease motion (blurriness) on your pictures. Blurriness on exam pictures can lead to inconclusive results. It is also important not to move between pictures so each set of picture will look the same. At this point if your test requires IV Contrast the technologist will give this to you at this time. You will then have to take a few delayed images with the IV contrast.
After your test is done the CT exam will be interpreted by a Board Certified Radiologist. Results of the exam will be sent to your physician as soon as possible. You should receive the results of your exam from your ordering doctor at the time your doctor chooses.
It is important if you have received any contrast that you drink 6 to 8 glasses of liquid within a 24 hour period if you are able to tolerate it. This will allow you to flush out any contrast that was given out of your body. It is normal for the Oral contrast to either cause diarrhea or constipation depending on your body.
If you are a diabetic taking pill medication:
If you were given IV contrast you will be given special instructions not to take Metformim, (Glucophage, Glucovance, Metaglip, Avandment, or Fonamet, for 48 hours after your IV contrast was administered & call your doctor who prescribes these medications with any questions.
If you experience any problems after your exam such as an allergic reaction please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Outpatient – POD