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What is a computed tomography (CT) scan?

A CT scan is a non-invasive medical procedure used to help diagnose and treat medical conditions. It combines the use of high-tech computer systems and X-rays to obtain specialized images of your brain, organs and/or bones. CT scans provide greater clarity and reveal more detail than X-rays alone, which is why they are beneficial for medical diagnosis and treatment. They are painless, fast and easy. Scanners are open on both sides, putting many claustrophobic patients at ease.

Before Your Exam

Be sure to inform the technologist if you have any allergies or believe you might be pregnant. With most exams, the technologist will start an intravenous (IV) line to administer a contrast agent, a safe liquid substance that makes certain tissues stand out more clearly and enables the finest details to show up on the X-ray, improving diagnostic accuracy. When using sedation or general anesthesia, some exams may require you avoid food or liquids prior to the exam.

How is a CT performed?

For some exams, you may be given a contrast agent orally and/or via IV.

You may be asked to change into a gown and remove all jewelry.

You will be positioned on a moveable exam table, and the technologist will step into a control room.

You may notice a mechanical noise from the scanner. This is just the activation of the X-ray tube and its rotation around the body.

The technologist may ask you to hold your breath during some portions of the exam.

After Your Exam

If the CT included contrast, you may resume a normal diet, but be sure to drink plenty of water to flush the contrast from your system. If you’re diabetic, taking Metformin and were given contrast, withhold this medication for 48 hours.

Results from the CT scan will be sent to your ordering physician within 24 to 48 hours. Upon request, CDs or films can be provided following the exam.

If you have any questions regarding your exam, don’t hesitate to ask your technologist. It’s important to us that all of your concerns or questions have been addressed.