A CT scan, also known as a CT scan, is an imaging test that allows medical personnel to look at the fine details of internal organs, bones, muscles, fat, and blood vessels. You may need to undergo this test so your doctor can diagnose an illness or injury. CT scans are painless and generally last 15 minutes. However, there are some specific things you should do before undergoing the exam for your safety and to get the best results from the CT scan.
Part 1 of 3: Talking About the CT Scan with Your Healthcare Provider
Step 1. Ask your doctor if you need to follow any special instructions
Depending on the reason you need to have the CT scan and your current medical condition, your doctor may provide you with special instructions, such as restrictions on food and drinks, changes in your activity level before or after the exam, or changes. in your medication program.
You may receive a sheet with instructions. In this case, be sure to read it carefully and ask your doctor if there is anything that is not clear to you or you do not understand
Step 2. Tell your doctor if you suspect you are pregnant
CT scans expose a person to a small amount of radiation, which is unlikely to harm the person or the fetus. However, it is better to be cautious, as a fetus may be more susceptible to radiation. Let your doctor know if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.
- For example, you can say "There is a possibility that I am pregnant." Your doctor may order a pregnancy test to confirm whether or not you are pregnant before undergoing the CT scan.
- If you are pregnant, you may need to have a different imaging test, such as an ultrasound or MRI.
Step 3. Tell the CT technician about any kidney function problems you have
If you have problems with kidney function (such as kidney failure or kidney infection), you may not be able to have a CT scan with contrast dye. This is because the kidneys may have a hard time removing the contrast material. Instead, you will have to undergo a CT scan without contrast dye or perform a different exam.
You should also tell your doctor if you have difficulty urinating or emptying your bladder, or if you have frequent urinary tract infections. In this case, you may decide that a CT with contrast dye is not the right option for you
Step 4. Let the technician know if you have an allergy to contrast dye
If you have an allergy to contrast dye, a CT with contrast dye will not be the best option for you. You could even have an allergic reaction to the contrast material that could be life-threatening, depending on how severe the allergy is.
In most cases, the contrast dye is iodine given intravenously. If you have an allergy to iodine, inform your doctor before administering it, since you will not be able to use this tincture
Part 2 of 3: Taking Precautions with Food, Drink, and Medicine
Step 1. Drink the contrast material if the professional indicates it
The contrast tincture can be introduced into the body through an injection, an enema or, more commonly, as a solution that you have to drink. If your provider tells you to drink a contrast dye solution, drink all of the liquid within the allotted time.
- Generally, you will be informed how long you have to drink all of the solution. This will allow you to organize your time well.
- The contrast tincture solution tastes similar to flavored sports drinks.
Step 2. Do not eat or drink anything three hours before the CT scan
Except for the contrast dye solution that you will have to ingest, you should not drink or eat anything in the three hours before the exam. That could interfere with the results of the CT scan.
- You may be able to drink and eat normally before undergoing a non-contrast CT scan.
- If you have diabetes, you will receive specific instructions regarding when to eat and drink. You will most likely have a light breakfast or lunch three hours before your CT scan.
Step 3. Take your prescription medications as you normally would
People can generally continue to take their prescribed medications as normal on the day of the exam and after the CT scan. If you don't know whether or not it's okay to take a medicine before or after a CT scan, ask your doctor.
If you have diabetes, your provider may give you special instructions regarding your medications, such as changes to your medication schedule. Talk to your doctor before leaving the health center and follow his instructions to the letter
Part 3 of 3: Physically Prepare for the CT Scan
Step 1. Take off jewelry and other metal objects
It is important that you remove any metallic objects from your body before having the CT scan, as it can interfere with the results. Take off any jewelry, glasses, belts with metal buckles, and other accessories.
You can even leave these objects at home so you don't lose your valuables
Step 2. Put on your hospital gown
Take off your clothes as instructed and put on your hospital gown. This will ensure that there are no metal clasps or other metal pieces that could interfere with the CT scan images.
You will be able to access a locker or other area to store your clothes until after the exam
Step 3. Lie down and stay still during the scan
CT scans are not painful, and they are generally quite quick. However, it is important that you stay very still during the exam to ensure that the images are as clear as possible. Lie down on the scanner table as instructed by the technician, and stay very still during the exam.
- You may have to lie on your back, your side, or your stomach, depending on the focus of the scan.
- Your head may be tied to a special platform to keep it still during the scan. This won't be painful, but it may feel a bit awkward or weird.
Step 4. Listen to additional instructions during the scan
The technician will speak to you through an intercom to provide additional instructions, if necessary. Listen to his voice, in case you have to adopt a different position or hold your breath.
- Keep in mind that the technician can also hear you through the intercom, so talk to him if you need anything.
- During the scan, you will also have a buzzer that you can use to inform the technician if you feel like you are about to panic. If you have a problem, the technician will help you.
Step 5. Drink lots of water after your CT scan
If you have a CT scan with contrast dye, you will need to drink at least five glasses of water after the exam so that your body can release the contrast material. Otherwise, you will be able to eat and drink normally.
Check with your doctor if there are specific care instructions you should follow
- Written results are likely to be available in three to five business days, but your doctor will usually be able to take a quick look at the scan on the same day as the exam for emerging problems that may require immediate attention. The written results will be sent to your personal physician when they are ready, although you can often pick them up at the exam center if you want to see them before your follow-up visit.
- Keep in mind that only your doctor can interpret the CT results. The technician performing the scan cannot tell you what the visible images mean.
- If you breastfeed, you can do it after the scan.
- Let your doctor know if you have problems with claustrophobia or if you often panic easily. The biggest problem with CT scans is feeling claustrophobic.
- Pay attention to any swelling if you have received contrast material through an injection. If the area looks swollen, you can apply a warm compress for 15 to 20 minutes, four times a day. However, if it doesn't improve within 48 hours, call your doctor.