Computed Tomography Imaging or CAT Scan
What is a CT Scan?
CT imaging uses special low-dose x-ray equipment combined with powerful computing technology to create detailed 2D and 3D images of the body; including the brain, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis, and bones. The CT scan is painless, and takes images in ‘slices’, which give insight into the structure and workings of the area. A safe contrast agent– a harmless dye – is sometimes given intravenously to make the images easier to read. The CT images are then used by radiologists to diagnose a range of conditions, and to guide minimally invasive procedures such as lesion biopsies and nerve root injections. CT is considered to be very safe and painless.
If you need a CT scan, here’s everything you need to know.
Before your scan
When you make an appointment, our booking team will let you know exactly what to expect for your particular scan, and if there’s anything you need to do beforehand. For example, you may need to fast beforehand (avoiding any food in the hours prior), or arrive a little early. Unless you’ve been asked not to, you should continue eating and drinking normally and take all your usual medications.
CT scans use x-rays, so if you’re pregnant, or suspect you might be, let us know. This means we’ll most likely be unable to perform the CT, but we can discuss the situation directly with your doctor. Please also let us know if you suffer from allergies or if you have diabetes, kidney disease or asthma.
Please also remember to bring your completed doctors referral form with you, if this has not already been sent to us. This will ensure the branch reception has all the necessary information required so our expert team can provide you with the best care possible.
On the day of your appointment
When you arrive, please check in with reception. We’ll make sure all your details are correct. Depending on the type of CT scan you’re having, you may need to fill out one or two forms.
Before your scan, you may need to remove most of your clothing and all of your jewellery and then change into a gown – this makes things easier, and will be more comfortable. If your scan needs contrast, you’ll be given this as a liquid to drink or as an IV injection. You’ll then lie on a comfortable table, which we’ll move to get you in the right position for your scan. Once you’re all set, the radiographer will move into another room – you can talk to them at any time over the intercom. The bed slides in and out of the CT scan equipment, which is like a big doughnut. You’ll have to stay very still during your scan and may be asked to hold your breath.
If you’ve been given an iodinated contrast injection, you may notice a strange metallic taste in your mouth and a warm sensation through your body. Because this warm feeling concentrates in your groin and buttocks, it may feel like you’ve wet yourself. Rest assured, this isn’t the case, and the sensation will subside in a few minutes.
After your scan
Most people will be able to get on with their day right away. If, however, you’ve had a CT guided injection, you’ll need to stay to rest for a while.
Your report will usually be available from your referring doctor within two working days.
Who can't have a CT scan?
CT is very safe, but isn’t appropriate for people who are pregnant.