When a healthcare provider needs to further investigate a patient’s illness, injury, or disease processes, he or she will order laboratory testing, x-rays, and specialized imaging studies.
One such specialized imaging study is called a CT scan or CAT scan (computed tomography). A CT scan is a procedure which uses x-rays and a specialized computer to produce three-dimensional images of internal structures, i.e., bones, muscles, organs, etc. By viewing these images, a radiologist is able to communicate to your doctor or healthcare practitioner the source of ailment. A CT scan precisely pinpoints areas of concern in multiple dimensions. Once that area has been identified, moving toward treatment can begin.
In some cases, a medium called contrast dye is injected. For example, your physician may send you to an imaging center for a CT scan of your liver. Typically for this type of exam, contrast dye is recommended as it helps the organ to show up better. Contrast dye can be administered orally or intravenously. It will be given to you just before your examination begins.
In order to prepare for your CT scan, your provider will give you a list of instructions to carry out prior to the examination. In the case of ongoing kidney problems, it is important to make your healthcare provider aware of this information prior to receiving intravenous contrast.
You will need to speak with your healthcare provider about any medications that you are taking. Particularly, if you are diabetic and are taking medications that contain metformin, you will need to follow instructions on when to resume taking your medicine. Typically, metformin needs to be held for 48 hours after having a CT examination. Since CT scans can be ordered to be performed with and without contrast, it is in your best interest to have the contrast cleared from your kidneys before you resume taking it. The radiologic technologist performing your test will also ask you questions and provide you with information regarding your medications and supplements.
It is very important that you discuss any allergies that you have with your provider. In the event that you are allergic to contrast medium, the radiologist and your provider will decide if it is acceptable for you to have a CT scan without contrast administration, or he or she will need to order a different exam altogether. You also need to give your allergy history to the technologist prior to performing the exam.
If you have piercings on your chest or abdomen, the technologist needs to be aware of these areas so that they can be marked. The reason for this is so that metal can sometimes cause streak artifact. For women, it is important that you tell the technologist if you are pregnant or think that you may be pregnant.
Lastly, depending if your procedure is ordered with or without contrast, you may be asked to not eat for a few hours prior to the exam.
Once your CT exam has been completed, you will be given instructions to follow, including drinking lots of fluids to help flush the contrast out. You will be able to resume your usual activities.
Please allow us at The Radiology Clinic to take care of all of your imaging needs!!