Computed Tomography – CT
Computed Tomography (CT), formerly known as a CAT scan, uses X-ray and computer equipment to produce cross-sectional images of body structures, tissues, and organs. CT imaging provides the unique ability to visualize soft tissue, bones, muscle, internal organs, and blood vessels.
A CT examination usually takes between five minutes and half an hour. The technologist will position you on the CT table. Pillows will be used to help you keep still in the proper position during the scan. The table will move slowly into the CT scanner opening. Depending on the area of the body being examined, the increments of movement may be very small and almost undetectable or large enough to feel the motion.
To enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels, use of different contrast materials may be required. Depending on the type of examination, these materials may be injected through an IV or swallowed. Before receiving the contrast material, you should inform the radiologist or technologist of the following:
- Any allergies, especially to medications or iodine.
- Any information regarding a history of diabetes, asthma, kidney problems, heart, or thyroid conditions. These conditions may indicate a higher risk of reaction to the contrast material or potential problems with eliminating the material from your system after the exam.
- If you are pregnant or think you may be.
- You will be alone in the room during your scan; however, you can communicate with your technologist at all times through an intercom system, and they will be able to see, hear, and speak with you throughout the entire exam.
CT scanning is a painless procedure. Depending on the type of scan needed, individual preparations may differ. Here is an overview of what to expect from the different methods we use to administer contrast materials:
- Mouth: A member of our staff may ask you to drink the contrast material, a liquid that allows the radiologist to better see your stomach, small bowel, and colon. Some patients find the taste slightly unpleasant, but tolerable.
- IV injection: To accentuate the difference between normal and abnormal tissue in organs, such as the liver or spleen, and to better define the blood vessels and kidneys, a contrast material is commonly injected into a vein. You may feel flushed and may have a metallic taste in your mouth, which should pass in a minute or two.