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CT Scan (General)

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by McCoy K

(Computed Tomography Scan; Computed Axial Tomography; CAT Scan)

 

Definition

A CT scan uses x-ray technology to take multiple views of the inside of the body. Compared to regular x-rays, a CT scan can take clearer and more detailed images of organs, bone, soft tissue, blood vessels, and other parts of the body.
CT Scan of the Head
Breast self-exam, step 5
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
 

What to Expect

Prior to Test

  • Before the test, your doctor will likely ask about:
    • Your medical history
    • Medicines you take
    • Allergies
    • Whether you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • Before your test, follow your doctor’s instructions regarding any changes to your medicines or diet.
  • At the healthcare facility:
    • A healthcare professional will explain the test and answer any questions you may have.
    • You will remove your clothes and put on a gown or robe.
    • You will remove all jewelry, hair clips, dentures, and other objects that could show on the x-rays and make the images hard to read.
    • If your CT scan includes oral contrast material, you will need to drink the contrast material at this time.

Description of the Test

You will lie (usually on your back) on a movable bed. The bed will slide into the donut-shaped CT scanner. Depending on the type of scan, an IV line may be placed in your hand or arm. A saline solution and contrast material may be injected into your vein during the test. The technologist will leave the room. They will give you directions using an intercom. The machine will take a series of pictures of the area of your body that is being studied. Your bed may move slightly between pictures.

After Test

You will need to wait for the technician to review your images. In some cases, more images will need to be taken.

How Long Will It Take?

About 10-15 minutes, depending on how many pictures are needed.

Will It Hurt?

You may feel warm and flushed if contrast material is injected into your vein. Otherwise, you should feel no pain.

Results

The CT images will be sent to a radiologist who will analyze them. Your doctor will receive the results and discuss them with you.
 

Call Your Doctor

After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occur:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
 

RESOURCES

Radiological Society of North America
http://www.radiologyinfo.org

US Food and Drug Administration
http://www.fda.gov

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of Radiologists
http://www.car.ca

Canadian Radiation Protection Association
http://www.crpa-acrp.ca

 

References


Computed tomography (CT)—body. Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=bodyct&bhcp=1. Updated July 2, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012.


Radiation-emitting products: computed tomography (CT). US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/MedicalImaging/MedicalX-Rays/ucm115317.htm. Updated January 24, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012.

 

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