CT, or computed tomography, combines a special spinning x-ray scanner with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images of the inside of the body. Instead of creating a two-dimensional image as an x-ray does (like a photograph), a CT scan creates both 2-D and 3-D models of the imaged portion of the body, which can then be looked at in various ways.
Newer state-of-the-art CT scanners, such as the ones used in our facility, are so sophisticated that they can capture incredible detail in milliseconds, allowing the ability to recreate a beating heart image or a 3-D model of the colon. Our state-of-the-art software now allows us to use less radiation than other typical scanners while performing these exams.
CT scans are done for a much higher level of detail and can be used to image almost any part of the body. They are performed fairly quickly (ranging from 10 seconds for a head CT to a few minutes for more advanced body scans).
One of our highly skilled technologists will help position you on the CT examination table, which is an open ring around the table (unlike an MRI). The table will move through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for the exam. The table will then move slowly through the machine as the CT scan is performed. (You may be asked to hold your breath during the exam.)
You may have an IV so as to administer IV contrast, which greatly enhances the images obtained. While you will be alone in the exam room during the actual scan, you will be able to see and hear the technologist at all times.
Excessive exposure to radiation can be harmful, but the exposure during a CT scan is minimal and the benefits of an accurate diagnosis far outweigh the risk. Moreover, our state-of-the-art software now allows us to use less radiation than other typical scanners while performing these exams. It is important to inform your doctor of any recent illnesses or medical conditions as some conditions may increase the risk of an adverse effect.
Women should always inform their physician and the technologist if they are pregnant or may be pregnant. Nursing mothers should wait 24 hours after receiving contrast before resuming breast-feeding. Allergic reaction to contrast (mild or severe) is also a rare but possible risk. Our team is well-prepared to deal with such reactions should the need arise.
Do not eat or drink for 2 hours prior to the exam. If your doctor provides you with a requisition, you will need to bring it with you. When you arrive, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire in order to confirm that all necessary precautions have been taken.
Please inform the technologist if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, if you have kidney disease or are diabetic, or if you are allergic to the IV contrast.
Take all of your prescribed medications as scheduled unless otherwise instructed. You may be asked to drink a liquid that allows us to obtain better imaging of your GI system.
After a CT exam, you can return to your normal activities.