Computed Tomography

Computed Tomography

What is Computed Tomography?

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A CT scan or CAT scan is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called “slices”) of the body. A CT scan shows two-dimensional and three-dimensional detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, blood vessels and organs.

CT scans may be done with or without contrast. “Contrast” refers to a substance taken by mouth or injected into an intravenous (IV) line that causes the particular organ or tissue under study to be seen more clearly. Contrast examinations require special preparation.

What are some common uses of CT?

  • Diagnose tumors and administer radiation treatment
  • Diagnose cancer
  • Guide biopsies and other minimally invasive procedures
  • Plan surgery
  • Diagnose and treat spinal problems, injuries to the hands, feet and other skeletal structures
  • Evaluate blood vessels
  • Identify injuries to the liver, spleen, kidneys, or other internal organs
  • Detect vascular diseases that can lead to stroke, kidney failure, or even death
  • Lung screening
  • Calcium Score

How do I prepare for my CT scan?

  • Bring a completed requisition form signed by your referring physician on the day of the exam. (Pre-certification should be obtained by your referring physician’s staff, if needed.)
  • On the day of your exam, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Avoid clothing with zippers and snaps as metal objects can affect the image. You may also be asked to remove hair pins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids and any dentures.
  • You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for one or more hours before the exam.
  • Diabetics should not take insulin if fasting is required.
  • Women should always inform their doctor or X-ray tech if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

Abdomen scans: Nothing to eat or drink four (4) hours prior to the exam. Drink one (1) bottle of Redi-Cat one (1) hour prior to the exam. Redi-Cat is provided by Radiology Associates of Hartford.

Abdomen and Pelvis scans: Same as for abdomen except drink one (1) bottle of Redi-Cat four (4) hours prior to exam and one (1) bottle one (1) hour prior to exam.

Chest scans: Nothing to eat for four (4) hours prior to exam.

Extremity, Sinus, and Spine scans: No preparation necessary.

What should I expect during this exam?

A CT Scan is a painless examination and usually takes 15 minutes to one hour depending on the area of the body being examined.

  • The Radiology Associates of Hartford technologist positions you on the CT table and pillows are used to help keep you still and in the proper position during the scan. The table will move slowly into the CT scanner opening. Depending on the area of the body being examined, the increments of movement may be very small and almost undetectable, or large enough to feel the motion.
  • To enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels, use of different contrast materials may be required. Depending on the type of examination, contrast material may be injected through an IV, swallowed or administered by enema.
  • Before the contrast material is administered, you should inform the radiologist or technologist of the following conditions which may indicate high risk of reaction:
    • Any allergies, especially to medications or iodine.
    • History of diabetes, asthma, kidney problems, and heart or thyroid conditions
  • You will be alone in the room during your CT scan. However, the technologist can see, hear and speak with you at all times. If necessary, a friend or family member may stay in the room with you during the exam. To prevent radiation exposure, the friend or family member will be required to wear a lead apron.

How do I obtain results?

After your CT scan is completed, we will be happy to answer any questions you have regarding follow-up care with your physician and getting the results of your scan.

Although our staff cannot give you immediate results, some physicians arrange for you to come directly to their office following the CT scan. If so, our trained specialists can arrange for you to take your images to your doctor’s office in time for your appointment. Your physician will discuss the results with you and may diagnose, recommend other tests, or begin treatment based on the CT report.

Please contact Radiology Associates of Hartford, P.C., to schedule your CT Scan. We serve patients in Glastonbury, Enfield and Avon Connecticut.

Web Resources

Computed Tomography (CT): Q&A
Medline Plus: CT Scans

For more information on this topic, please visit www.Radiologyinfo.org.