Skip to Main Content
Doctor looking at ct scans.

What is a CT scan?

Computed Tomography (CT) uses special X-ray equipment to obtain image data from different angles around the body. The computer takes the data and creates a visual image of each slice of information. The radiologist is able to review the slices of information in sequence, which creates a two-dimensional image of the inside of your body. CT imaging is particularly useful because it can show several types of tissue- lung, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels- with great clarity. CT helps the radiologists diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma and musculoskeletal disorders

CT scan - abdomen, pelvis and kidney

Preparing for the CT scan

Do not eat or drink anything four hours prior to exam. 

Take essential medications with a small amount of water

As with any medical procedure, be sure to inform your physician or the technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant or if you have a history of allergies.

What can you expect during a CT scan?

After you arrive for your appointment, depending on the area of your body to be scanned, you may need to change into a gown or pajamas. Some scans may require a contrast agent to help highlight the areas inside your body that your doctor wants to see. This is given in the form of a drink or an injection. Once you are prepared for your exam, the technologist, who is specially trained in imaging procedures, will help position you on the table of the CT scanner. Usually you will lie face up and the table will automatically move into the large donut shaped scanner. While inside the scanner, you will be able to see your outside surroundings. The technologist will talk with you from the control room where they can see you at all times. When you are ready, the scanner is turned on. The ring rotates around your body as it sends and picks up X-rays. It is very important to lie completely still. Periodically, the technologist may use the intercom to ask you to hold your breath for short periods of time. This helps to create better pictures when scanning the abdomen or chest. Most CT examinations take 30 minutes.

Get scheduled

With locations across Northern California, a Dignity Health Advanced Imaging location is just right around the corner. Call our centralized scheduling department to schedule an appointment today.


Meet our radiologists

You don’t have to look far for a team of specialists dedicated to helping you get back to the things you love. Our Mercy Radiology Group providers are here to lend a helping hand.

Meet our radiologists

Looking for a doctor? Perform a quick search by name or browse by specialty.