Computed Axial Tomography (CAT Scan or CT Scan)
This is a special type of x-ray exam using a specialized x-ray unit and computer reconstruction to form an image of most any part of the body. The x-ray tube rotates around the body and the images are reconstructed into a "slice" or a cross-section of a portion of the body. Several of these "slices" together constitute an exam of a portion of the body, i.e. Chest, abdomen, pelvis, head, etc. Blood vessels can also be studied with the CT scanner and this is called CT angiography. These exams can detect cancers, trauma to organs, fractures of bones, abnormalities in the brain, infections and multitudes of other conditions.
CT without IV contrast: You may or may not be asked to drink an oral contrast but you do not have to be fasting to do this exam. If you are having a CT of the abdomen or pelvis, ask if you may come to the hospital and pick up the oral contrast before your exam so you can drink it at home lessening your time at the hospital.
CT with IV contrast or with and without IV contrast: You may or may not be asked to drink an oral contrast. If you are having a CT of the abdomen or pelvis, ask if you may come to the hospital and pick up the oral contrast before your exam so you can drink it at home lessening your time at the hospital. You may not have any food or drink for at least 6 hours prior to the exam. If you are over 50, a diabetic or have renal insufficiency, you will be required to have a special lab test before we can give you the IV contrast. If you have had lab work at the doctor's office they may have the results we need however, most of the time it is necessary to have the test done at the hospital before your exam. If your physician has ordered this test, a Creatinine level, please try to come to the hospital a day or two before your CT to get this blood work done. This will also save your time when you come for the exam.
If you take a prescription medicine containing metformin (Glucophage, Glucovance, Avandamet, Metaglip) you will not be able to take that medication for 48 hours after the exam. Consult your physician for instructions.
When you arrive at the hospital, sign in at the front desk in the main lobby. Your personal information and insurance information will be taken by one of the admissions personnel. Then you will be called back to the CT department. If the type of CT you are having requires oral contrast and you have not drank it prior to coming you will be asked to drink it now. You will be asked a series of pertinent questions by the technologist and asked to sign a consent form for the IV contrast if that is what your physician has ordered. If the type requires only IV contrast or you have drank the oral contrast and are now ready for the scan with IV contrast, a small needle and catheter will be started in your hand or arm. You will then be asked to lie on the CT table. The technologist will be able to answer any questions you have about the exam. Then the part of your body to be examined will be moved into the doughnut shaped gantry and the technologist will start the exam. You will not be enclosed in the gantry; you will be able to see around you. It is very important to lie still during the exam. You will be instructed as to when to breathe and when to hold your breath. After the exam is over, you will be free to go and resume your normal activities.
The radiologist will study your exam and dictate a report to your physician. This report should be available with in 2-3 working days.
If you have had oral or IV contrast, it is important to drink plenty of fluids for the next 1-2 days.