computed tomography (CT)
A CT exam is sometimes referred to as CAT scan. CT is a diagnostic tool that uses X-rays to produce a series of computerized images of your body that are useful in detecting many medical conditions that do not appear on traditional X-rays. Similar in appearance to an MRI scanner, the doughnut-shaped CT scanner houses an X-ray tube that moves rapidly around a specific anatomical area, sending signals to a computer. The computer reconstructs these signals to form a cross-sectional image of your internal anatomy, including bones, organs and blood vessels. During your CT exam, you will be asked to lie very still and quiet on a padded table for approximately 15 minutes.
Preparing for a CT
If your CT exam requires the use of a contrast agent, the technologist may start an IV, and/or you may drink an oral contrast agent. These contrast agents greatly enhance the CT images. Please plan to pick up your oral contrast agent in advance of your appointment at the Bon Secours facility where your scan will be completed. You will be given instructions on when to drink the contrast, otherwise you must arrive two hours ahead of your scheduled appointment time to drink the contrast. Continue taking your daily medications prior to your scan unless otherwise instructed. If you have ever had a previous allergic reaction to a contrast agent, or have multiple allergies or suffer from asthma, it is very important that you notify the technologist prior to your visit. Patients may not eat for four hours prior to any CT scan if you will be receiving IV contrast. Patients are encouraged to drink plenty of clear liquids. Patients may take medications except Ibuprofen (i.e., Advil, Motrin, etc.) and Naproxen Sodium (i.e., Aleve, etc.).
- If you are 65 or older and your physician has ordered your CT with IV contrast, you will need lab work for kidney function before you have your scan.
- If you are having an abdominal or pelvic CT scan, you may not eat or drink in the four hours prior to your scan.
- If you are having a CT of the brain, head or chest, you may drink only clear liquids in the four hours prior to your appointment.
- Wear warm, comfortable clothing.