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How to prepare for a CT scan

CT (Computed Tomography) or CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scans are specialized X-ray tests that generate cross-sectional images of the body with the help of X-rays and a computer. CT scanners have substantially improved patient comfort because a scan can be done quickly. Improvements have led to higher-resolution images, which assist the doctor in making a diagnosis. For example, the CT scan can help doctors to visualize small nodules or tumors, which they cannot see with a plain film X-ray.

Safety Tips for patients before the CT scan:

  • Inform or update us if you have any allergies or side reactions to medications.
  • Let your doctor or technologist know if you are pregnant or may be pregnant.
  • Please leave your valuable items at home or keep them limited to your room in the hospital.
  • Inform us if you need interpreting services, so that we can be arrange them for you.
  • Bring a list of your present medications with you. It mainly applies for out-patients.


Preparation needed for the procedure:

  • Before the actual date of your appointment, you will be needed to follow the “Limited Carbohydrate diet” for about 1 day.
  • Apart from water, you are suggested not to eat or drink anything, for approximately 6 hours before the exam. However, you are very much allowed to drink unlimited water. So, you can brace yourself by drinking as much water as you can until arrival. Contrast material is usually injected intravenously, or administered by mouth or by an enema with the purpose to heighten the distinction between various organs or areas of the body. So, fluids and food isgenerally limited for many hours before the examination. In case the patient has a history of allergy to contrast material like iodine, the requesting physician and radiology staff should be alarmed.
  • You can follow routine medications. You can stop only if it is instructed otherwise. In case you are diabetic, you should take your diabetes medication keeping 4 hours gap in between the medication and the exam.
  • For being in the safe side, make an early arrival 15-30 minutes prior to your PET scan.
  • Be prepared for the verification conducted by the technologist pertaining to your identification and exam requested.
  • You shall be given a contrast screening form for completion.
  • The doctor may order lab tests before contrast being given as per the situations demand. In general, contrast is incorporated into a vein to define the images throughout the body in a better way. A small intravenous (IV) line is placed in an arm vein if the radiologist is of the opinion that it is helpful. It is through this line that the contrast and the isotope is injected. The contrast shall then be excreted through your kidneys.


Features of the Exam:

  • The duration of the exam generally varies with an estimated average of about 2 hours.
  • All metallic materials such as belt, jewelry, dentures and eyeglasses and specific clothing around the body are removed since they can hamper the clarity of the images. Depending on the body part that is to be scanned, you might be asked totake off all of your clothing and get into a comfortable hospital gown.
  • You shall be positioned on the movable exam table by the technologist. You shall be given instructions to remain still and rigid or even to hold your breath. This is mainly during the CT scans of the chest and abdomen.
  • The table is slipped into the center of a large machine that takes the X-ray images around the body. It is important for you tolimit any body movement by remaining as rigid and quiet as possible during the CT scan. This facilitates increasing of the clarity of the X-ray images.
  • You shall be given time to ask query-related questions to technologists.
  • In case any problems are experienced during the CT scan, the technologist should be informed instantly. In fact, the technologist directly observes the patient during the procedure. There is also an intercom system in the room for supplementary patient safety purpose.


What is Contrast material?

Contrast material is a special dye that is needed for some CT scans to mark the areas of your body being examined. X-rays are blocked by the contrast materials.That is why it appears white on images that further helps in highlighting blood vessels, intestines or other body structures. Contrast material is injected in your body via the following means:

  • By mouth
  • You are given a liquid comprising of the contrast material while the scanning of your esophagus or stomach. This drink might not taste pleasant at all.

  • By injection
  • It can be injected through a vein in your arm to aid your gallbladder, urinary tract, liver or blood vessels to remain distinct on the images. You might undergo a feeling of warmth during the injection or the taste of a metal in your mouth.

  • By enema
  • It can also be inserted in your rectum to help examining your intestines.


Steps to follow after the Procedure:

  • You must drink 5 glasses of water on an average.
  • Mothers who are nursing, should wait for around a day before resuming breast-feeding.
  • If you go through any symptoms like nasal congestion, itchy eyes, hives, rashes, sneezing, restlessness, tremors, pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, surely inform the staff as soon as possible. It is the duty of the staff to tackle these advert situations. In case you come across any of the above mentioned symptoms after leaving the department, you should still contact your doctor urgently or go to the emergency room that is nearby. However, if your symptoms are “life threatening”, call 911 without a delay.

CT scans have substantially enhanced the ability of doctors to diagnose many diseases in the initial stage. Also, the methods implemented are hardly risky as before. The evolvement of CT scan technology is an ongoing process, producing picture quality of better resolution maintaining patient safety. There are certain types such as the spiral or helical CT scans that provide quicker and sharper images of internal organs.




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