What is CT (CAT Scan) Imaging?

CT imaging combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images of the inside of the body. CT scans provide greater clarity and reveal more details than regular x-ray exams.

CT scanning is relatively quick, usually lasts between five and 30 minutes. Such speed is beneficial for all patients but especially children, the elderly and patients experiencing high levels of pain.

For some CT exams, a contrast material is used to enhance visibility in the area of the body being studied. If contrast material is used, it will be swallowed or injected through an intravenous line (IV).

How should I prepare?

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids, jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures, hairpins and removable dental work as these and other metal objects may affect the CT imaging.

You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours beforehand, especially if a contrast material will be used in your exam. You should inform your physician of any medications you are taking and if you have any allergies. If you have a known allergy to contrast material or “dye,” your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

You will be alone in the exam room during the CT scan. However, the technologist will be able to see, hear and speak with you at all times. With pediatric patients, a parent may be allowed in the room but will be required to wear a lead apron to prevent radiation exposure. After a CT exam, you can return to your normal activities. If you received contrast material, you may be given special instructions.

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