What’s it like to have a CT scan? If you’ve never had a CT scan before, it’s a very painless process that doctors may not want to give you often, but are usually necessary to get a clearer image of inside your body. Some illnesses (like cancers) can sometimes be elusive on other scanning equipment. When a CT scan is done, images are usually extremely clear, and that’s done by the scanning equipment breaking the imagery down into layers. The only other option in getting detailed imagery is through an MRI, which acquires images differently, (magnetically, not with radiation,) highlights different parts of body tissue and takes more time. Neither one is better than the other. They provide different answers and your physician sometimes working with the radiologist will make the decision about which will give you the best answer.
Preparing for Your CT Scan
Once you’re given the ok to have a CT scan, often, depending on the scan ordered, you may have no preparation. In some instances you might drink a contrast material called barium or it could involve not eating or drinking for a few hours before the scan takes place. Sometimes another contrast material is injected into your body through a IV. This material is in the form of a dye that can help highlight certain areas for easier visibility.
Beyond that, the only prep necessary is to not wear any metal devices on your body to prevent conflicting with the CT scan equipment. Metal objects can cause errors in the scans and possible false readings. The same applies if you wear any hearing aids or even removable dental work.
Once you’re clear of any metal or electronic devices, you’ll usually be asked to change into a hospital gown during the scanning process.
How the Scan Works
As with all scans, you’ll recline on an examination table that can be fitted with pillows and other items to help make you feel more comfortable. Sometimes those items will have to be used to position you correctly so the CT scanner scans accurately. When you’re in place, you’ll be sent through the CT scanner chamber as a test to coordinate starting positions. Technicians will also give you an IV with the contrast material if it’s needed.
When the scan actually takes place, the table will pass again very slowly through the scanning chamber. It’s here where you’ll have your biggest challenge: Staying perfectly still. You may even be asked to hold your breath at times so you don’t move any part of your body. CT scanners are very sensitive, so any slight movement can potentially provide an error image.
Usually much shorter, a scan can take up to 30 minutes, you may have to train your brain to go within for that time duration. If you know how to meditate, it’s a perfect time to do it then.
As the CT scanner scans you, it’ll be taking pictures of your internal organs and breaking them down into layers as mentioned above. Newer scanners now allow even more image layers for improved resolution. So if there’s something in your body your doctor is concerned about, chances are the CT scanner will be able to see it in perfect clarity.
If you need a CT scan done, contact us here at Glendale MRI Institute. We’re one of the leading scanning facilities in this region of California thanks to our state-of-the-art equipment and attention to your well-being. We’ll assure that your CT scan gets done as quickly as possible so your anxiety over any health concerns can be alleviated or given treatment immediately.