CT (Computed Tomography)

Computed Tomography (CT, CAT)

Computer tomography (CT, CAT) uses CR (x-rays) and a computer to create cross-sectional images of the body structure under evaluation. Unlike CR and MRI results, CT scans can show a combination of tissue, bone, and blood vessels. Therefore, CT scans are well suited for detecting tumors and diagnosing cancers in the chest or abdomen.

How can I prepare for the exam?

If your exam requires any contrast materials, we ask that you fast for 6 hours prior.

What happens during the CT scan?

You will be asked to lie on top of a table which is slowly moved into the large, donut-shaped opening of the scanner. Once you are inside the scanner, a series of x-rays creates hundreds of cross-sectional pictures that represent slices of your body. In seconds, the computer assembles the slices into images that are interpreted by your physician.

The exam will take between 45 seconds and 1 hour, depending on the area being imaged.

Do I need a creatinine blood test before my exam?

If your exam involves intravenous (IV) contrast materials, you may need a creatinine blood test beforehand. IV contrast materials are considered extremely safe. However, patients with poor kidney (renal) function may experience adverse side effects. Elevated serum creatinine levels indicate poor renal function.

For your well-being, we require creatinine blood test results from patients who are:

  • Over the age of 60; or
  • Diabetic; or
  • Have pre-existing kidney (renal) disease.

Results must be less than 1 month old. 

Is a CT scan safe?

Yes. The radiation dose is very small and comparable to the natural background radiation we are constantly exposed to. The benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the small risk.

Is the contrast material safe?

Yes. Patients rarely have allergic reactions to the contrast material. If you are a nursing mother, however, please wait 24 hours before breastfeeding. The contrast material will be eliminated by your body’s natural processes, so drinking 2-4 cups of water after your exam is recommended.