CT stands for Computed Tomography. CT offers detailed information by taking cross-sectional images throughout the body via a helical scanner. CT scan, like conventional x-ray, uses radiation. Depending on the type of exam your physician orders, you may have to drink a flavored liquid before your exam (oral contrast) and/or receive an injection of contrast material. Contrast allows for better visualization of certain organs within the body. Exams take 5 to 20 minutes.
The following is an explanation of a typical exam (exams may differ based on individual patients): You will be lying down on an exam table and a technologist will assist you into a comfortable position for your exam. A contrast medium may be injected at this point. If having a head CT, head may be cradled as the slightest motion may hinder image quality. You will be moved into the CT scanner. The technologist can hear and see you at all times. You may hear low “motorized” sounds. You will be moved out of the CT scanner. The technologist will assist you in getting off the table. Your exams will be interpreted by the radiologist and your physician will receive the results.
Calcium Scoring – EKG leads are placed on the chest, like a normal EKG. The patient is placed into the scanner and an initial scan is taken to set up the machine. A scan is taken through the heart to evaluate for calcium deposits in the arteries around the heart. No contrast is needed for the exam.
Whole Body – The patient is given 2 cups of water to drink for the test before getting on the table. An IV is started in the patients arm. The patient is hooked up to EKG leads for the Calcium Scoring part of the exam and an initial scan is taken to set up the machine. A scan is taken through the heart to evaluate for calcium deposits in the arteries around the heart. No contrast is needed for this part of the exam. The EKG leads are removed and the patient is placed back into the scanner and IV contrast is administered. The scan area includes the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis (from the top of the ears through the bladder).
CT Colonoscopy – The patient is given a small injection under the skin of glucagon to help relax the colon 10 minutes prior to the test. The patient is placed on the table and a small tube is inserted into the rectum so that air may be delivered. Air is delivered into the colon to maximize the distention of the intestines for the best visualization. The patient is scanned on their back and then turned onto their stomach for the second part of the exam. No contrast is needed for the exam.