Computed tomography (CT) is a noninvasive procedure that is used to provide detailed views of the bones, blood vessels, brain, and dense tissues. With CT, cross-sectional images are produced in a series of slices similar to the slices that make up a loaf of bread. These images can then be manipulated in a computer to create 3D images. The detailed images help doctors diagnose abnormalities, such as tumors, bleeding, bone calcification, and cysts. Select areas or the whole body can be imaged in a short amount of time. CT is a painless procedure.
CT is usually performed at an outpatient radiology center or the radiology department of a hospital. Depending on the area that is to be imaged, you may need to fast prior to the procedure and arrive early to drink a contrast solution. Contrast solution helps to enhance the CT images. Contrast solution may also be administered via an IV. You will receive specific preparation instructions when you make your appointment.
You will lie on a narrow table, and your body will be positioned by the technician. Your body positioning may be adjusted or changed during the procedure. The table will glide into the scanner for a short time when the pictures are taken. You will be asked to remain motionless and to occasionally hold your breath for short periods to prevent blurring the pictures. CT scans are fast. Depending on the type of equipment, the whole body can be imaged in less than 30 seconds.
A radiology technician may perform your test, but is not qualified to diagnose or discuss your condition or results with you. A radiologist or your doctor will review your results with you.