CT Patient Guide


  • A CT scanner looks like a large, box-like machine with a short tunnel in the center. In addition, CT scanners typically have an examination table that slides in and out of the tunnel, while an x-ray tube and electronic x-ray detectors rotate around you.
  • A technologist will be operating the CT scanner in an adjoining control room, with the ability to maintain visual contact through a window and hear or talk to you over a speaker and microphone. 
  • For a CT scan, you will lie on the examination table while it slowly moves through the center of the machine. While getting a CT scan is not painful, lying still on the table during the scan can be a bit uncomfortable. It is important to remain still during the CT scan.  Any motion, whether breathing or body movements, can lead to a loss of image quality that is visible in the form of blurring. This is why the CT technologist may ask you to hold your breath during certain parts of the scan. 
  • The timing of the procedure can vary, but it usually takes less than 30 minutes, depending on the type of CT exam being performed.  The exposure time of the scanning itself takes only seconds, this is helpful to all patients but especially for the critically ill, the elderly, and for children, since it can be difficult to remain still. In fact, many CT scanners are fast enough that children do not require sedation, but in special cases, sedation may be needed for those who cannot hold still.
  • Be aware that some CT scans may require the use of a contrast material to enhance visibility in the area of the body being examined. Contrast material may be swallowed, or be administered through an intravenous line (IV).
  • There is a small amount of radiation exposure associated with CT scans. For children, the scanner parameters are adjusted to their size so that the scan can be done with a reduced dose. We also have technology that is used to further lower the level of radiation dose for a CT procedure called iterative reconstruction. 
  • Once the examination is complete, you will have to wait until the technologist verifies the image quality of your scans for an accurate interpretation. Your CT image results are then reviewed and analyzed by a radiologist who will send an official report to your referring doctor. Your doctor will then discuss your results with you.

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We are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call 530.529.XRAY (9729) to make an appointment.

Question about Your Exam?

If you have a question about your exam, please call our department at 530.529.XRAY (9729)