What is it used for?
Use to create detailed images of internal organs, blood vessels, and bones. They are used by doctors:
- To diagnose diseases
- As imaging guidance for certain tests and treatments or
- Assess the effectiveness of treatment
Some conditions they are used to diagnose include:
- Bone breaks, fractures, or injuries to internal organs
- Blood flow deficiencies/strokes
- Tumor, infection, or blood clots
- Internal bleeding
What to expect during a CT scan?
You will be asked to lie on a flatbed. This will move into a large donut-shaped machine with a tunnel-shaped opening. (2) As you pass into the machine gradually, the scanner will take cross-sectional images of your body using x-rays. During the scan stay very still and breathe normally to make sure that the images received are clear. The radiographer will operate the scanner from outside and will speak to you through an intercom.
The procedure may take between 50-30 minutes depending on the study and is painless.
How do I prepare for my CT scan?
You will be informed if any preparations need to be made before the scan. Eating and drinking may have to be stopped a few hours before the scan ‒ especially if a special dye is injected into your body to highlight certain areas. Wear loose clothing without metal details such as zips or buttons. Do not wear any jewellery or metal objects.
What do I do after the procedure?
After the scan, you can resume normal activities. If you were given a contrast material you might have to stay back for a while after the exam to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction to the dye. You might be asked to drink plenty of fluids to flush the contrast material from your body.
How safe is it?
CT scans use a very low dose of radiation, therefore the risk of developing cancer is minimal (3). The CT scan is not recommended for pregnant women as there is a risk that it could harm the unborn child.