Understanding CT scans
What is CT?
CT or CAT scan stands for computerized axial tomography. A CT scan is an x-ray procedure enhanced by a computer. This results in a two or three-dimensional view (referred to as a slice or cross-sectional) of a particular part of your body.
Preparing for the Exam
Each CT exam has required preparations, the most frequent and their preps are listed. If the instructions for your exam are not listed, phone Baptist Health Paducah Diagnostic Imaging at (270) 575-2600.
If your exam is scheduled before noon, do not eat or drink after midnight on the night before the exam. If your scan is at noon or later, you may have liquid or light foods before 8 a.m. Oral contrast must be taken 90 minutes before the exam. This can be mixed a beverage. Do not eat or drink anything after you ingest the oral contrast. IV contrast is routinely administered through the arm. The exam takes 10 to 15 minutes.
IV contrast is routinely administered through the arm. The exam takes 30-45 minutes.
Head with Contrast
Do not eat or drink two hours before exam time. IV contrast is routinely administered the arm. The exam takes 10-15 minutes.
Head without Contrast
No prep. The exam takes 5-10 minutes.
Do not to move during the exam. You will be positioned on a scan table and moved into the scanner which is an open chamber. The technologist will have you in full view at all times and be in constant communication via microphones. You will hear humming of the equipment as it produces the images.
You may pre-register online. If you do not pre-register, arrive at the hospital 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time to complete the registration process.
- Inform the technologist if you may be pregnant.
- The technologist will ask you several questions before your exam such as: previous allergies, especially to iodine, a previous reaction to x-ray dye, renal (kidney) problems or diabetes. A lab test will be performed prior to the injection of contrast to assure safe administration.
- If you feel any discomfort during contrast injection, tell the technologist. A temporary flush, wave of nausea or metallic taste in the mouth are common side effects, but should be reported to the technologist. If you observe any tenderness, swelling or problems in the area of the injection site or the arm where the contrast was administered within 48 hours after injection, phone your doctor.
- Some exams require that you drink a contrast liquid. If this is necessary, you will be informed about when to drink the contrast and where to obtain it.
- If you have questions about your bill, please call Patient Accounts at the appropriate number listed in our phone directory. The radiologist's bill is separate from the hospital's.
For More Information
For more information on Baptist Health Paducah's diagnostic imaging services, phone (270) 575-2600.