What is a CT Scan?

What is a CT and how does it work?

A Computed Tomography, CAT scan or CT scan creates very clear two-dimensional images of the brain and other parts of your body that cannot be seen on regular X-rays. The images are produced by projecting small amounts of X-rays through the part of the body being examined and converting the information into images by using a special computer. For some CT scans, the technologist injects a contrast medium or dye to highlight certain tissues for closer examination. This type of scan helps differentiate between healthy and diseased tissue, making it possible to accurately diagnose many diseases in their early stages.

How do you prepare for your CT scan?

  • Do not eat anything for two hours before your scan.
  • Please arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment.
  • Remove metal and plastic items from the part of your body being examined.
  • Let our staff know what medications you are taking.
  • If you could be pregnant, are breastfeeding, are allergic to contrast medium (dye) or are diabetic, please tell our staff.
  • If you must cancel or reschedule, please do so at least 24 hours before your appointment.

IMPORTANT: If you are taking Metformin (Glucophage) and your doctor has ordered a CT with IV contrast, you may need to stop it for 48 hours and get a blood test prior to your exam. You will also need to check with your doctor before resuming the medication.

What will you experience during your CT scan? Upon Arrival

  • The technologist will interview you to obtain a medical history.
  • You may be asked to change into a gown and drink a contrast to better view the portion of your body that is being scanned.
  • A member of our staff will take you to the CT room, help you onto the table and position you for the scan.

During your CT scan

  • You will feel the table move after each scan and may hear a whirring noise or high-pitched beep.
  • To get the most precise results, the technologist may ask you to hold your breath for a short time.
  • Please lay as still as possible to avoid blurring the images.
  • At all times during the scan, you will be able to communicate with the technologist.
  • The exam usually lasts 10 to 15 minutes.

After your CT scan

  • You may leave immediately after your CT.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, for the next 24 hours to help flush the contrast medium from your body.
  • The radiologist will review your scans and send the results to your physician.
  • Your physician will receive a report detailing the findings from your exam and will follow up with you. Some results will be available in the patient portal. Please visit UofLHealth.org to learn more about accessing the portal.

If you have questions about imaging, contact UofL Health – Diagnostic Imaging & Radiology at 502-562-3257.

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Jen Rager

Jen Rager is an imaging manager at UofL Health – UofL Hospital. She oversees MRI, breast care center and outpatient imaging center at the UofL Health – Chestnut Street Outpatient Center and UofL Health – Jackson Street Outpatient Center. She started as an X-ray tech in the imaging department 25 years ago and has served in various roles. She graduated from UofL’s Radiography program in 1997 and she is registered as a Radiology Tech and CT Tech. She is a brain cancer survivor and mom to two boys.

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