Computerised Tomography (CT) uses x-rays to take cross sectional images throughout the body. It is invaluable in the diagnosis and management of many different conditions within the brain, chest, abdomen and pelvis.
The scanner comprises of a table which slowly moves through a ‘doughnut’ shaped piece of equipment containing the x-ray tubes. This will not touch the patient and they will not feel anything during the scanning. The patient may need to lay head or feet first depending on the examination. A lot of scans require the patient to hold their breath for a short while so that we can acquire still images.
If the scan is of the abdominal area the patient may be asked to fast for a couple of hours before their scan. Most examinations are very quick and take just a few minutes to perform, however patients may spend around an hour in the department in total.
On arrival you may be asked by the radiographer to slowly drink a special contrast agent, which is a type of drug used to help distinguish the bowel. Many scans require a small injection of some contrast agent through a cannula in the arm to highlight the blood vessels or different parts of anatomy. This is not always appropriate for all patients and staff will talk to you about this if it applies to you.
If you are a diabetic you should contact the CT department when you receive your appointment letter.
Once the scan is complete, a radiologist will write report of the scan and send it to the doctor who referred you for the scan.