A CT scan is also known as Computerized Tomography (CAT scan). The CT scanner uses X-rays to create images that represent slices through the body. These are called cross sectional images.
CT scans are used to diagnose or follow infection, inflammation, tumors, cysts, bleeding, back problems and many other disorders and abnormalities. The cross sectional images produced may demonstrate conditions that do not show up on conventional X-rays. The results may help determine your diagnosis and/or the best course of treatment for you.
Your physician's nurse or ALMH’s personnel will give you complete instructions prior to the examination. The preparation will vary depending upon the area being imaged and whether the exam is to include administration of X-ray contrast material.
The preparation may include the use of oral contrast which requires drinking several glasses of a liquid and waiting until it has moved through the bowel system. This oral contrast helps to identify the stomach and intestines. In many cases, X-ray contrast material will be given through a needle or catheter placed in a vein in the arm. The X-ray contrast material contains iodine and helps to highlight blood vessels, organs such as the liver or kidneys as well as tumors and other abnormalities. If IV contrast is to be used, prior blood tests may be needed. The technologist will ask you about your medical history and allergies prior to using IV contrast.
You may also be asked to change clothing and remove jewelry before the examination.
If your exam requires you to drink contrast, you will want to report to the Radiology department 1 hour prior to scan time. Please check in at the Main Lobby before reporting to the Radiology Department if you have not been preregistered over the phone.
During the Scan
The CT scan will be performed by a registered radiology technologist, who is specially educated, trained and certified.
During the scan, you will lie on a table and the part of your body to be scanned will be positioned in the middle of a large doughnut-shaped scanner. The X-ray equipment that makes the image is in the large doughnut. You and the table will slide slowly through the doughnut during the exam. The equipment may be rather noisy, but no moving parts will touch you during the exam. The technologist will be in a control room near you during the test. The technologist will be able to talk with you during the exam and will watch you through a window during the exam. For many exams, the technologist will instruct you to hold your breath as the scans are being obtained.
If the IV contrast is to be injected, you may feel a sensation of warmth near the IV line or in other parts of your body. The technologist will monitor the IV during the first part of the injection. If you experience any discomfort during or after the injection, be sure to notify the technologist.
Once the study is completed, the images will be studied and interpreted by a radiologist, a medical doctor specially trained in X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasound and angiograms. The radiologist will compare the CT scan to previous CT scans, ultrasound examinations and X-rays and will send a report to your physician.