Computed tomography, more commonly known as a CT or CAT scan, is a diagnostic test that uses special X-ray equipment to make cross-sectional pictures of your body. One major advantage of CT is its ability to image bone, soft tissue and blood vessels all at the same time. Doctors use CT scans to look for:
During the scan, you will lie still on a table as it slowly passes through the center of a large X-ray machine. In some instances, a dye (also called contrast material) may be used. The dye makes structures and organs easier to see on the computed tomography pictures. The dye may be delivered through a vein in your arm using an IV. For some types of CT scans, you drink the dye.
During the scanning process, patients often hear slight buzzing, clicking and whirring sounds as the X-ray tube rotates around the table. A CT technologist will be able to see, hear and speak with you throughout the scan via a built-in intercom system.
The scan is painless and fast. After the exam, you can return to your normal activities. If you were given contrast material, you may receive special instructions to drink plenty of fluids to help your kidneys remove the material from your body.
Computed tomography scans can be done in a hospital or one of Mercy’s imaging centers. A radiologist will interpret your CT scan images and send a report to your doctor. It may be necessary to have a follow-up examination with your doctor so that you can discuss any additional tests or treatments that may be needed.