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CT Scan - Computer Tomography

This is a special x-ray examination which, with the help of a computer, produces cross-wise picture slices of your body. These pictures are displayed on a TV screen and can also be shown on x-ray film.

CT is used to view all body structures but especially soft tissue such as body organs (heart, lungs, liver etc.).

What to expect?

You will be asked to remove all metal objects from the area to be scanned.  You will lie down on a narrow padded moveable table that will be slid into the scanner, through a circular opening.

You will feel nothing while the scan is in progress, but some people can feel slightly claustrophobic or closed in, whilst inside the scanner.  You will be asked to remain still and hold your breath on command.  There are staff present, they will not necessarily remain in the room, but will speak with you via an intercom system and will be viewing the procedure constantly through a windowed control room, from where they will run the scanner.

If you are having a scan of your stomach and intestines (CT abdomen), you may have to take a special liquid to drink beforehand to give a clearer picture.

If you are having a scan of your bowel (CT colonography), you will be sent detailed instructions on what you should eat and drink the day before the examination. You will  not be able to eat or drink anything for 6 hours before your appointment.

Some procedures will require Contrast Medium.  Contrast Medium is a dye that makes the image of the CT scan clearer. It will be injected into a vein usually on the inside of your elbow or the back of your hand. Before you are given the injection, you will  be asked some questions to make sure that it is safe for you and asked to sign a form agreeing to receive the dye.

The scan time will vary depending on the type of examination required, but as a rule it will take around 30 minutes.

This page was last updated at 2:09PM on May 14, 2020.