How to Prepare for a CT or CAT Scan

How do I prepare for a CT?

The day of your CT, please:

  • Wear a jogging suit or similar clothing.
  • If you wear clothing with zippers or metal buttons, you will need to put on a hospital gown.
  • Please bring a carry bag to store any clothing or valuables.

You may be asked to sign a consent form to allow for an injection of an x-ray "dye".

Before the CT scan, tell your doctor if you:

  • Are allergic to the iodine dye used in the contrast material or any other substance that contains iodine. Also tell your doctor if you have asthma, are allergic to any medications, or have ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from any substance (such as the venom from a bee sting or from eating shellfish).
  • Have a history of kidney problems or diabetes, especially if you take metformin (Glucophage) to control your diabetes. The contrast material used could cause kidney damage in people with poor kidney function. If you have a history of kidney problems, blood tests (creatinine, blood urea nitrogen) may be done before the CT scan to check that your kidneys are functioning properly. For more information, see the medical tests Creatinine and Creatinine Clearance and Blood Urea Nitrogen.
  • Are or might be pregnant.
  • Become very nervous in confined spaces. You need to lie still inside the CT scanner, so you may need medication to help you stay relaxed. However, this is uncommon because the cylinder within the scanner is not long enough to enclose much of your body.
  • Within the past 4 days, you have had an X-ray test using barium contrast material (such as a barium enema) or have taken a medication (such as Pepto-Bismol) that contains bismuth.

If you know you are allergic to contrast material, please call 646-6100 ext. 64652 to discuss this.

What happens during a C.T.?

For your test, you will lie down on the C.T. table. During the test, the table will move slowly through the C.T. ring. The x-rays will go into a computer to make the pictures. You may be asked to hold your breath during each scan, otherwise you will only need to lie still.

If you have allergies or claustrophobia, tell the technologist before your test.

Please follow the instructions below for the body part being examined

Brain, face or neck

  • During the test you may receive an injection of an x-ray "dye" to outline the area(s) being examined.
  • Be prepared to stay in the department for 1 1/2 hours. About 1/2 hour of this time will be spent on the scanning table.
  • Please avoid wearing earrings, necklaces or hair pins.

Chest

  • Before your test, you may receive an injection of x-ray "dye" to outline the area(s) being examined.
  • You may be asked to swallow a barium paste during the exam and you may need a chest x-ray.
  • Be prepared to stay in the department for 1 1/2 hours. About 1/2 hour of this time will be spent on the scanning table.

Abdomen or pelvis

  • NO solids from midnight, clear fluids only until time of scan.
  • You may be requested to drink 2-500ml bottles of water at home beginning one hour prior to your appointment time OR to drink 2-3 bottles of flavored liquid upon arrival in the department for your scan.
  • Your referring service will provide you with the appropriate instructions.
  • You may also receive an injection or x-ray “dye” to outline structures in your body.
  • For a pelvic C.T., we may need to put some fluid into the rectum and/or a tampon into the vagina.
  • Be prepared to stay in the department for about 1-2 hours. About 15 minutes of this time will be spent on the scanning table.

CT Virtual Colonography

Spine or other

  • There is no preparation needed.
  • Be prepared to stay in the department for about 1 hour. About 1/2 hour of this time will be spent on the scanning table.

Is there anything else I should know?

If you take medication, continue to take your usual medications even if you have to take a little water.

If you are a diabetic, you do not need to stop eating 4 hours before the test.

What happens after the C.T.?

Your doctor will receive a report in about 1-2 days' time following the test and will explain the results to you.

After the test, the x-ray "dye" will pass through your kidneys and bowel.

If you are admitted to hospital before your test, tell the nurses about the appointment.

Last updated: Fri, 2011-04-01 15:05