Computed tomography scans, also called CT or CAT scans, utilize specialized X-ray technology to obtain high-resolution digital images from various angles of the body. A computer collects the images and displays cross-sectional slices of the scanned body part or organ. The scan is painless, noninvasive, and requires a very low level of radiation. In some instances, a contrast agent is injected and/or orally administered to obtain the best image.

The CT scans play a significant role in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of many types of disease and trauma. It is ideal for scanning key organs and parts of the body such as:

  • Head
  • Chest
  • Abdomen
  • Pelvis
  • Spine
  • Extremities

How Is a CT Performed?

The CT scan is a fast and simple experience for most patients. The typical CT appointment takes approximately 15 minutes. Collecting the images from a full body scan is very fast, and can be completed in as little as 5 minutes. You will be able to return to your normal activities immediately following the scan.

In some cases, your CT may require the use of a contrast agent, which can be administered by IV injection and/or orally. Your technologist will guide you through the exam, which typically involves:

  • Changing into a hospital gown
  • Reclining on the scanning table
  • Remaining still as the exam table slides into the tube-shaped scanner

If contrast is being utilized, the contrast will be injected and you will feel a warm sensation. You will hear buzzing or clicking sounds as the scanner is repositioned for multiple angles. Immediately following the scan, the exam table will slide out of the scanner.

Your safety and comfort are important to us. You will be carefully monitored throughout the exam and scan, and we strive to make the CT scan as comfortable as possible for you. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

Preparing for Your CT Procedure

Your CT scan may require an injection of a contrast agent to obtain the best images. Proper preparation for your CT scan will minimize interactions with the contrast agent, and includes the following:

  • Please refrain from normal eating and drinking prior to your scan.
  • If you are diabetic, please inform our staff when scheduling your exam.
  • Please remove any metal objects such glasses, jewelry, or hearing aids.
  • Women should always inform their technologist if there is any possibility of pregnancy.
  • Please inform us if you have experienced a reaction to contrast agents or iodine in the past.

The lung cancer screening decision aid is a valuable resource to help you determine if a lung cancer screening CT scan is right for you.