A CT (computed tomography) scan is a type of x-ray used to depict anatomy at different levels within the body.
The CT scan rotates the x-ray source around the patient, capturing the necessary image from many different angles. Each rotation of the x-ray beam produces a single cross-sectional "slice" of anatomy, like the slices in a loaf of bread. A computer is then able to create an image by stacking these slices together. As a result, physicians are able to view inside anatomy not possible with regular x-rays.
A prescription from your doctor is required to make an appointment.
Preparing for Your CT Scan
There are two types of contrast: oral (given as a liquid which you would drink) and intravenous (injected through a vein). Your scan may require one or the other or both.
Fasting: If your scan has been ordered with contrast (dye), oral or intravenous, then you may need to fast (take no foods or liquids by mouth) for several hours prior to your appointment time. You will be given specific fasting instructions when your exam is scheduled. You do not need to fast if your CT scan will be without contrast.
Medications: If you are diabetic, you may need to stop taking certain medications 4-6 hours prior to the exam as directed by your doctor.
Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, please notify your physician and the CT staff.
Please check with your doctor if you are uncertain about any preparation instructions.
The Day of Your CT Scan
Wear comfortable clothing to your appointment. Try to wear clothing that does not contain metal, because you may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes if it does. Gowns and scrubs will be available.
Depending on the area being scanned, you may also need to remove metal jewelry, glasses, hair pins, etc.
If your scan will be with oral contrast, you may be asked to pick up the contrast prior to your appointment. This will allow you to drink the contrast before the exam. The fluid allows for the parts of the anatomy under study to show up better in the images produced by the scan.
During Your CT Exam
In the CT room, a technologist will assist you onto the padded table. The table will move slowly into the scanner opening. A voice from the scanner will periodically instruct you to hold your breath for a few seconds and will let you know when to exhale.
It is important to lie as still as possible while the images are being acquired, as motion will affect the sharpness of the images. Your doctor may order IV contrast to be administered for your test to enhance areas of interest.
Depending on what part of the body is being examined and whether or not the test is with contrast, the exam itself takes anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.
A technologist will be able to see and hear you at all times during the exam.
After Your CT Exam
You may leave immediately following the procedure.
If your test was with contrast, drink plenty of fluids in the 24 hours following your exam.
The radiologist will study the CT images and report the results to your physician. Your doctor will schedule a time with you to discuss the results of your CT exam.
We will bill your insurance company directly. Please bring your insurance card and referral/authorization form (if necessary) on the day of the exam.
Some insurance carriers require pre-certification for CT scans. Please check with your insurance provider to see what their requirements are.