Computed Tomography scans (also known as CT or CAT scans) are specialized x-ray exams done on a CT scanner. CT scans are even more specialized CT scans that are done to image the vessels of different parts of the body. CT scans can detect small changes in body tissue deep inside a patient's body. CT scans can be done on just about any part of the body.
What to Expect
You will lie down on a thin padded table. The technologist will make certain you are comfortable, because it is important to hold real still during the scan. The scan can take as few as a couple of minutes, or as long as a half an hour. Most are between 5-15 minutes. You may or may not have intravenous contrast given during the procedure. If you need intravenous contrast, you will have a small needle/catheter put into a vein in your arm or hand.
Preparations for the Exam
- If your CT is ordered without oral contrast & without IV contrast, there is no preparation prior to your exam.
- If your CT is ordered with oral contrast, you will need to pick up barium a day or so prior to your exam (if you forget, the exam will have to be postponed or delayed for two hours or more). You also should not eat or drink anything other than the barium for 4 hours prior to the scan.
- If your CT is ordered with IV contrast, you will have a needle/catheter put into a vein in your arm or hand. Then at a specific time in the exam, contrast will be injected into your IV. This contrast can make you feel very warm & might give you a funny taste in your mouth. You can not eat or drink anything other than the barium (if required) for 4 hours prior to the scan.
- You can take any of your medications prior to the scan with a small amount of water.
You will need to bring your medication list with you to your appointment. This list will need to be reviewed, especially if you have to have IV contrast.
The CT scanner is located in the main hospital department at OSF St. Mary Medical Center.