When your doctor has requested a CT scan, you will come to Radiology for a procedure to enable us to look at any part of your body in cross-section.
What is a CT scan?
CT (Computerised Tomography) allows us to look at any part of your body in cross-section (like looking at each slice of a loaf of bread in turn). Using the CT Scanner, we can build up a picture of the whole area, and see parts of the body which are difficult to see by any other method.
This procedure is done by a Radiologist (doctor). There will be some large machines, which are very safe. Specialised staff will remain with you throughout your stay. You will be awake during the procedure and a nurse will be with you at all times.
What happens during the procedure?
The doctor will guide you throughout the procedure:
- You will be asked to lie on a table, which is automatically moved into the centre of a machine that looks rather like a square doughnut.
- Velcro straps will be placed around your body for your own comfort and safety as the table moves through the scanner.
- There may be some breathing instructions for you to listen to. The specialised staff will explain these. We also have some instructions in other languages.
- The CT Scanner makes a slight buzzing sound - like a noisy washing machine.
- During the scan, the doctor may give you an injection of contrast dye into a vein, either by hand or via a controlled injection pump, to assist with the diagnosis. This helps to highlight the blood vessels and soft tissue. Following the injection of contrast dye you may experience a warm, flush sensation, metallic taste in your mouth or a sensation of wetting yourself. Don't worry, these sensations are normal and will disappear shortly after the injection finishes.
Abdominal or pelvic CT scans
When the abdomen or pelvis is being examined, you may be given a special solution - Gastroview 3% - to drink before your scan. This will help to outline the stomach and bowel, making interpretation easier and more accurate.
For these scans you may need to be at the hospital for one to two hours. In some lower pelvic examinations, it may be necessary to administer approximately 300mLs of this fluid into the back passage (anus) via a small rectal tube. A detailed explanation of this procedure will be given to you prior to the placement of the tube and your privacy maintained at all times.
Are the x-rays harmful?
The amount of radiation you will receive will be dependent upon the specific examination your doctor has requested for you. This should be discussed with your local doctor as the benefits of this examination should outweigh the risks to you.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding your CT scan, don't hesitate to discuss them further with your local doctor, Radiologist or Radiology staff member.
Is there a possibility you may be pregnant?
You must notify Radiology staff if you are pregnant, or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant.
Any radiation you receive may be extremely harmful to your unborn child, especially during the first trimester (3 months) of your pregnancy.
Duration of the CT scan
Most examinations (without special drinks) take 10 to 15 minutes to complete. The computer takes a little longer to produce the pictures, which are then photographed and reviewed by the Radiologist.
Occasionally, we must do emergency scans for other people and this can cause delays. But we aim to keep to your appointment time whenever possible. We will notify you on your arrival of a delay or as it occurs. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, we will arrange an alternative solution or reschedule your appointment.
In a medical emergency, call 000. If you are feeling unwell, see your local GP or go to your local hospital Emergency department for help.