Computed Tomography (CT)

What is a CT Scan?

A CT (Computed Tomography) scan, sometimes referred to as a CAT Scan, is a complex imaging device which uses X-Ray radiation to allow very thin three dimensional slices to be imaged of areas of your body. Once acquired these thin slices can be manipulated to construct complex high resolution imaging of your body. The CT Scanner itself is a ring or doughnut shaped machine with a moving patient bed attached.

What will happen during my CT Scan?

You will be asked to change into a gown prior to your CT Scan and you will be required to remove any metal objects. The Radiographer will then help you onto the CT bed and into the correct position for your scan. How you are positioned on the table is determined by the examination your Doctor has requested and may require you to enter the scanner head or feet first. The Radiographer may also use foam pads or other devices to help position you for the most effective scan possible.

During the scan itself the Radiographer will leave the room to operate the machinery. The table will move through the gantry (the centre of the machine) as images are obtained. The process may be repeated several times until all necessary imaging is acquired. During the scan you will be expected to remain very still and may be required to control your breathing.

Many types of CT scans will require you to have an injection of iodinated contrast during your scan. This injection will be temporarily absorbed into your blood stream to provide addition diagnostic information during your scan.

Some CT Scans of your abdomen may also require you to drink a type of iodinated contrast prior to the scan.

Is a CT Scan safe?

CT Scans use X-Ray radiation in order to acquire imaging of the body, this does lead to a very small increase in lifetime cancer risk.

Our staff will take all steps to reduce radiation doses from CT Scanning to lowest possible levels to achieve an image. Our CT Scanner also uses the latest technology available to achieve the lowest possible dose while maintain high quality and diagnostic imaging.

How do I prepare for my CT Scan?

Some CT Scans will require specific preparation in order to achieve the best quality imaging. Our clerical staff will advise you of any special requirements for your CT Scan.

CT Scan with Sedation

If you are having a CT Scan under sedation, download the Procedure with Sedation Patient Information as a PDF for more information.

How long will a CT Scan Take?

CT Scans vary in procedure length with a patient general on the table for 5 – 30 minutes. Some specialist interventional procedures may run for slightly longer.

What happens after a CT Scan?

After the scan you will normally be able to leave within 15 minutes with no lasting effects from the procedure.

If you were administered contrast during your scan you will be asked to drink plenty of water over the next few hours to help process the contrast out of your body.