Frequently Asked Questions about CT


What is a CT scan?
A CT scan (also called CAT scan), stands for Computerized Tomography. CT scans use X-rays to make detailed pictures of the internal structures of your body in cross section like slices of the inside of your body. During the test, you will lie on the table that is attached to the scanner, which is a large doughnut-shaped machine. The CT scanner sends X-rays through the body area being studied.

How long will my CT exam take?
Depending on the type of exam you will receive, the length of the actual procedure will typically be between 10 to 30 minutes. Exam time may vary depending on the nature of your study.

What happens after the CT scan and when will results be provided?
The Radiologist will study your images and dictate the findings. Once the images have been read, your physician will receive the report to review with you.

Why do I need to drink contrast?
The oral contrast fills the colon and small bowel for better visualization and delineation between surrounding anatomy on the images.

Why do I need the IV contrast?
The IV contrast enhances all of the vascular structures on the images (i.e. liver, pancreas, kidneys). It will also characterize potential pathology.

Could I have a reaction to the IV contrast?
Yes, but the chances are minimal. It has the same risk for reaction as any medication does, which is why we use contrast screening forms—to flag possible patients who are at risk for having a reaction to the contrast.

Why is a head CT done most frequently without IV Contrast?
Most pathology can be detected in the brain without IV contrast.   For certain indications, contrast may be given or a MRI might be suggested for further evaluation.

Is it ok that I took my medication(s) this morning before I came?
Yes. Any type of medication is fine to take the morning of your exam. For patients who are NPO, please do not take medication 2 hours before your exam. If you take a certain kind of diabetic medication, you may be asked to withhold for 48 hours after the exam.

What is this test going to show?
A CT scan is a good way to image and evaluate bones, internal organs, the brain and vascular structures within the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis.

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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)