CT Scan

“CT” scan, or “CAT” scan, are abbreviations of Computerised Tomography. A CT scan is a valuable diagnostic test that enables radiologists (doctors who specialise in this area) to visualise some areas of the body which cannot be seen using conventional x-rays.

Overview

The CT imaging method produces a series of images that are then reconstructed by a computer into cross-sectional views. Significant technological advancements in recent years have greatly reformed and refined treatment courses.

CT scanning is a painless diagnostic procedure, with a very low dose of radiation involved. At Rouse Hill Medical Imaging, our highly trained radiographers will make as comfortable as possible during your CT scan.

Preparing for a CT scan

Please bring your referral (letter from your doctor) and your Medicare and/or Pension Health care card with you to your appointment. It is important to bring all previous films and reports relating to the region being imaged.

Depending on the area to be scanned you may be asked to follow special instructions. The preparation could include fasting before your test. You will be given all the relevant information when making your appointment.

When the abdomen or pelvis is examined you may be given some oral contrast to drink before the scan. This helps to outline the bowel in the scan, making interpretation easier and more accurate. Some people find that these drinks can give rise to loose bowel motions and this should be remembered if you have to travel any distance or if you have difficulty with bowel control.

You will be asked to fill in a consent form and provide all relevant medical history.

For some CT examinations an injection of contrast (x-ray dye) into a vein in your arm is necessary to make the image clearer or to give extra diagnostic information. Some people may have an allergy to x-ray dye. If you have had a reaction before, please let us know in advance. In some selected cases, pre-medications can be given to reduce the risk of a reaction.

If you are diabetic and take Metformin (also known as Glucophage, Diabex or Diaformin), then you may be required to stop taking the Metformin on the day of your CT scan and the following 24 hours. It is best to bring recent blood test (renal function) results with you. All other medication should be continued.

We understand that some patients are anxious about having tests performed. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask our staff. It is important that you are on time for your appointment to ensure there is sufficient time available to perform the procedure.

Please inform the radiographer if you are, or suspect you may be, pregnant.

Scanning

Our highly trained radiographer will bring you into the CT scan room where you will be asked to lie down on the CT table. The radiographer will position the part of your body you are having scanned in the middle of the large doughnut-shaped scanner.  The radiographer is in full view and in communication with you throughout the scan. The scanner does not touch you, nor do you feel the x-rays. The scanner does make a slight buzzing sound and the table you are lying on will move in and out of the scanner. It is important you lie very still and at some stage, you may be asked to briefly hold your breath as the image is taken.

Each CT scan is tailored to each patient’s needs. On average the actual imaging time with our CT lasts less than five minutes. Generally, you will be in the CT scanning suite for 10-20 minutes overall.

Many exams require contrast (x-ray dye) injection into a vein in the arm. This injection is associated with a warm flush and a metallic taste in the mouth. Some people may have an allergy to x-ray dye. If you have had a previous reaction, please make our staff aware of this, prior to the scan.

When finished, you may then get dressed and leave as instructed by the radiographer. You have no restrictions after having a CT scan and can go about your normal activities. To help eliminate the contrast medium from your body, you are required to drink plenty of fluids after the scan.

Results

Most CT scan results will be ready in less than 1 hour. However, some CT scan results can take a lot longer due to the amount of data that is processed and the complex array of images. The scan results can also be provided on CD or be electronically transferred to your referring practitioner if requested. Our staff will inform you if it is possible to wait for your results, or if you should return to pick up the films and report at a later time. Rouse Hill Medical Imaging strongly advises that you return to your referring doctor in order for your doctor to discuss your radiology report with you.

FAQs

Can I have a CT scan while pregnant or trying to conceive?
CT scanners use x-rays. As x-rays can harm a developing foetus it is important to tell your doctor and our staff if you are, or think you may be pregnant before you undergo the test.

Can I have a CT scan while breastfeeding?
If you are breastfeeding and need contrast as a part of your exam, you are required to stop breastfeeding for 24 hours after your CT scan. Speak to your doctor about expressing milk for storage.

Can I continue my medication before a CT scan?
If you are diabetic and take Metformin (also known as Glucophage, Diabex or Diaformin), then you may be required to stop taking the Metformin on the day of your CT and to have recent blood test (renal function) results with you. All other medications should be continued.

How long will the CT scan take?
This varies, depending on the region of the body being scanned. Generally a CT scan takes 10-20 minutes.  Please enquire when you make your appointment.

Can I eat and drive after a CT scan?
You have no restrictions after having a CT scan and can go about your normal activities.

Do I have to take my clothes off for my CT scan?
Depending on the region of the body being imaged, the radiographer may ask you to change into a gown.

Will the radiographer performing my scan tell me what’s wrong?
The radiographer is not qualified to read your x-rays. It is the radiographer’s duty to perform the test and ensure the images are of high quality for the radiologist (specialist doctor) to interpret them.