CT: Computed Tomography
What is Computed Tomography?
Computed Tomography (CT) is a valuable, painless, diagnostic test that allows radiologists to see inside some areas of the body which cannot be seen using conventional x-rays. This imaging method produces a series of pictures that are then reconstructed by a computer into cross-sectional views. CT aids your physician in reliably and precisely visualizing and then diagnosing the presence or absence of disease inside your body, allowing detection of many conditions in earlier stages, and greatly optimizing patient outcomes.
How Do I Prepare for the Test?
You should not eat solid foods for 2 hours prior to our test. You may, however, drink plenty of fluids, such as water, broth, clear soups, juice or black decaffeinated coffee or tea. We encourage you to drink plenty of fluids before your arrival.
It is important for you to keep to your regular medication schedule. Please take all the medications that have been prescribed to you by your doctor – just let our staff know what medications you have taken prior to your test. Depending on your medical condition and the type of test that your physician has ordered, you may be requested to drink a bottle of barium sulfate at bedtime the night before your test. Your physician will tell you if this is necessary.
If you have an insulin dependent diabetic condition, please continue to take your insulin as prescribed, but remember to drink extra fruit juices to make up for the fasting of solid foods for the 2-3 hour period that your stomach ins empty. Patients who take the supplement called Glucophage (Metformin), should take their prescribed dose as normally done but discontinue the next dose for 24 hours after the CT exam. If you need a substitute medication, please consult your doctor.
If you are having a head scan, dress in comfortable clothing. For all other exams, you most likely will change into a hospital gown. Our changing area is private and there is a secure locker for your clothes. It is best, however, if you leave your valuables at home. If you are wearing jewelry, dentures, glasses, hearing aids or any metal objects, which might interfere with the CT scan, we will ask you to remove them.
What Happens During a CT Scan?
Many of our patients receive a contrast agent intravenously during their CT test. If your doctor or the radiologist has determined that this procedure will enhance your CT scan results, the technologist will place an IV in your arm prior to your examination. Contrast mediums, or contrast agents, (sometimes call dyes) highlight your organs and blood vessels and help the radiologist to see them better.
During the examination, you will be lying on a comfortable patient table (usually on your back). This table will then slowly move you through the opening of the examination unit called the gantry. The technologist will leave the room, but is in full view and communication with you through the observation window in the adjoining room. The scanner does not touch you, nor do you feel the x-rays. The scanner does make some noise and the table you are lying on may move slightly to make adjustments for a better vie. It is important for you to lie very still and at some points, you may be asked to briefly hold your breath as the pictures is taken.
Each CT scan is tailored to each patient’s needs; however, in general, most examinations only last approximately 15 minutes.
Is the CT Scan Harmful in Any Way?
CT scanners use x-rays; however, your radiation exposure is kept to a minimum. Modern CT scanners are designed to ensure the consistent reduction of radiation exposure to patients and staff.
With the combination of low radiation exposure and short examination times, today’s CT scanners offer optimal and excellent image quality.
Please notify your physician and the technologist if any of the following apply:
- If you have images from previous examinations (including x-rays)
- If you have had previous allergic reactions to a contrast medium, iodine or shellfish
- If you have asthma
- If you have diabetes or take medication
What Happens After the CT Scan?
You have no restrictions after having a CT scan and can go about your normal activities. To help eliminate the contrast medium from your body, drink plenty of decaffeinated or non-alcoholic beverages. Water and juices work well.
Rapid results are essential not only for your peace-of-mind, but also for your physician to begin planning your treatment immediately. A radiologist, who is a physician experienced in CT and other radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a report of the diagnosis to your physician. Your physician will discuss the results with you and explain what they mean in relation to your health.
Billing and Payment
Your physician must provide a referral in order for you to receive a CT, in addition, some insurance carriers require pre-authorization. Please discuss this with your physician’s office staff and your insurance company prior to your exam. Please bring your insurance cards, drive’s license, and any films or records from prior exams that relate to your current CT exam.
You will receive two bills for your exam:
- A bill from the hospital for the CT scan
- A bill from the radiologist for interpreting your scan.