A Cat Scan (Computer Aided Tomography, commonly called CT scan) is a simple, safe way for your physician to "see inside your body." A computer creates highly detailed cross sections and may build three dimensional pictures of your organs, tissues, and bones from x-ray beams. At Nebraska Health Imaging, we have state of the art equipment that adjusts the amount of radiation exposure that you receive based on the body part we are scanning and your size; thus keeping radiation exposure to a minimum. CT scans aid your physician in accurately diagnosing your illness or injury and planning treatment.
Advise the Nebraska Health Imaging receptionist and technologist prior to your examination if you have any of the following:
Allergy to food or medications, such as shellfish or iodine
During your CT, you will lie on an x-ray table that will slowly be moved through the doughnut-shaped scanner. Certain patients will be informed and advised concerning the use of IV contrast (sterile iodine) as part of their CT scan. The CT exam usually takes between 15 minutes and one hour.
After the exam, you may resume regular activity unless otherwise instructed.
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Different exams require very different preparations. Please refer to the list below and follow the instructions closely as the preparation can affect the results of your exam. Failure to do so may cause a delay and possibly require rescheduling your exam. If you do not find your exam listed below or have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Nebraska Health Imaging prior to your exam.
For your convenience, you may want to wear comfortable clothes without metal, such as a sweat-suit or elastic waist pants and a slip over shirt. Women may want to wear a sports bra without metal hooks or wires. If you'd prefer, Nebraska Health Imaging will supply suitable clothing for your examination.
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night prior to your exam. If you take any medications, you may still take them using as little water as possible. You will be asked to arrive at Nebraska Health Imaging 30 minutes prior to your exam. At that time, you will be given a barium drink. This helps "highlight" your stomach and bowel giving a more detailed exam. You may also receive some IV contrast; this helps to "highlight" your blood vessels. If you have an allergy to iodine or have experienced an allergic reaction to IV contrast in the past, contact Nebraska Health Imaging prior to your exam to find out if you will need premedication.
Head/Neck: No preparation is necessary. You may be given some IV contrast to help "highlight" your blood vessels. If you have an allergy to iodine or have experienced an allergic reaction to IV contrast in the past, contact Nebraska Health Imaging prior to your exam to find out if you will need premedication.
Spine/Extremities: No preparation is necessary.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have to go into that tunnel?
The tunnel or gantry as it actually called, is the opening in the CT scanner. The gantry is shaped more like a doughnut than a tunnel. The opening is 30 inches in diameter and is open in the front and back. Since the gantry contains the x-ray tube and detector which create the CT pictures, the part of your body being scanned must pass through it. The bed and gantry move simultaneously. For example if your head or neck is being evaluated, your head and neck will pass through the gantry for the few minutes it takes to scan you. If the scan is of your abdomen, then only your lower chest down will pass through the gantry. Rarely is claustrophobia a issue in CT."
Is CT a x-ray?
Yes. A CT scan is made up of a series of x-rays which are processed by a computer to produce cross-sectional pictures of the body. These cross-sectional images allow one to look at the inside of the body just as one would look at the inside of a loaf of bread by slicing it. A CT scan is thus made up of a series of slices.
Why do I need an injection?
For some CT scans, dye or contrast is injected into a vein. This contrast helps "highlight" the blood vessels in your body. It can also help distinguish normal tissues from abnormal ones.
Why do I have to drink that stuff?
Prior to most CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis, you will be given a special oral contrast. This is dilute barium. The contrast helps "highlight" your bowel and stomach. By doing this the radiologist is able to detect abnormalities of these organs, and to separate these structures from other structures within the abdomen. The good news is Nebraska Health Imaging provides fruit flavored contrast kept cold, making this experience much more pleasant."
I've heard that the dye injection is dangerous. Is that true?
Like any medication, people can have an allergic reaction to the x-ray dye or contrast. At Nebraska Health Imaging, we use the safest available contrast agent. If you have an iodine allergy or have had a previous reaction to x-ray contrast, please contact Nebraska Health Imaging prior to your exam to see if you will require premedication. The best news is Nebraska Health Imaging has a well trained staff including a physician and nurse at your side to assist you should any problem occur.
How soon will I have results from my exam?
Nebraska Health Imaging will have the results of your examination to your doctor within 24 hours. Your doctor will then review the results and compare them with any other tests you may have had. After reviewing this information, the results of your exam will be available through your doctor. Be sure to check with your doctor for their process on getting your test results to you.
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