Preparing for Your CT Exam

CT scans provide clear pictures of the inside of the body using special x-ray equipment to detect a variety of conditions. They are especially helpful in providing good pictures of internal organs, bones, soft tissues, and blood vessels, which are not shown as well on regular x-rays. These specific CT images help physicians to see what may be going on inside of a patient through the quick, accurate, non-invasive, painless CT exam.

For example, CT Urograms scan the urinary system to evaluate the kidneys, ureters and bladder. Following kidney stone treatments and cancers of the urinary tract, CT Urograms reveal blockages, anomalies or scar tissue.

Preparing for a CT Scan

Please wear loose, comfortable clothing without any metal zippers or buttons. Jewelry, hair clips, eye glasses, underwire bras, and other metal objects will need to be removed prior to your CT scan. You may be asked not to eat or drink prior to your exam depending on the scan area.

Women should always inform their physician and CT technologist if there is any possibility of pregnancy.

What to Expect During Your CT Scan

CT scans are painless and generally only take a few minutes. Most of the patient’s body will be outside of the scanner during the procedure. Patients are asked to lie as still as possible on the bed to obtain the clearest images.

A CT scanner is a donut-shaped machine and it has a bed attached that slides the patient inside to the appropriate scanning location. The experience is not claustrophobic because it is fully open except for the few feet that encircle the body part being scanned.

Generally, other people are not allowed in the room with the patient because CT scanners use x-rays, but sometimes exceptions may be made for pediatric patients. The technician will control the movement of the machine by watching a monitor from behind a screen.

Once inside, the ring or donut rotates around the patient’s body to obtain accurate images of the thin sections of the body that the physician requested. The whole exam takes only a few minutes and it can be very helpful in detecting and diagnosing many medical issues.

At UPMC UCPA, we use contrast dose and radiation reduction techniques to obtain the highest quality scans with the fewest possible doses to improve patient safety.