Computed Tomography FAQ

How should I prepare for the procedure?

Some CT exams require preparation. Depending upon the type of exam, you may be asked to drink either water or a contrast media, which allows the radiologist to better see the stomach, small bowel and colon. A contrast media might be injected through an IV into your blood stream to better define the blood vessels and kidneys and to differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue in certain organs.

Before you are given any contrast media, a radiation technologist will ask whether you have any allergies to medications or iodine and whether you have had diabetes, asthma, heart disease, kidney problems or thyroid conditions.

What happens during the exam?

For the exam, you will be placed on a table and asked to lie very still. The table will then move through a doughnut-shaped device, which houses an X-ray tube and detectors. The X-ray tube and detectors spin around the table inside the doughnut, taking thousands of X-ray images. Each image is then reconstructed by a computer into a two-dimensional image of the body section that was scanned.

You will be alone in the room during your exam; however, the technologist can see, hear and speak with you at all times. The exam is painless, but if you become uncomfortable at any time, please let the technologist know.

What happens after the exam?

CT exams usually take 5 to 30 minutes. After the exam, a radiologist specializing in CT will interpret the exam. Any significant finding will be phoned to the doctor who ordered your CT exam.