Computed Tomography (CT)
CT (computed tomography) or CAT (computed axial tomography) is a highly advanced computerized x-ray machine used to obtain images of the body in the axial plane. This sophisticated computer emits a thin x-ray beam that will continuously rotate 360 degrees while the exam table moves during your procedure. The painlessly and safely obtained images from inside your body provide crucial information to your doctor that helps him or her make accurate diagnoses and treatment plans for you. Depending on the exam, intravenous and/or oral contrast may be given for various clinical indications to help improve visualization of certain structures.
What to Expect
CT scanners are shaped like a large doughnut standing on its side. You lie on a narrow, motorized table that slides through the opening into a tunnel. Straps and pillows may be used to help you stay in position. During a head scan, the table may be fitted with a special cradle that holds your head still. While the table moves you into the scanner, detectors and the X-ray tube rotate around you. Each rotation yields several images of thin slices of your body. You may hear buzzing and whirring noises. When indicated, the use of a contrast material could be necessary for your exam. Contrast helps to demonstrate blood vessels and differentiate tissues and organs within the body. Contrast material can be used orally and/or intravenously.
- Orally: You could be asked to drink a liter of flavored water with a minimal amount of contrast material to enhance the digestive tract.
- Intravenous: You could have an IV placed if it is necessary based on indication for exam. Ports can be accessed for certain exams.
You can feel warm during your injection and can experience a metallic taste in your mouth. A technologist will be in a separate area outside the CT room but he/she can see and hear you at all times. You may be asked to hold your breath at certain times of the image acquisition process in order to avoid blurring of images.
Some types of CT exams require that you not eat or drink for 4-5 hours prior to your exam. Please contact our office or check with your doctor prior to your visit for special instructions. Metal objects such as jewelry, eyeglasses, removable dental work, and hairpins may affect the CT images and should be removed prior to your exam. If there is a chance that you are pregnant or if you have a history of allergies, please inform us.