What is a CT?
When a general x-ray can’t provide the level of detail necessary for diagnosis, a Computed Tomography (CT) scan may be ordered instead. This is an advanced x-ray procedure that produces cross-sectional images of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues.
At MedStar a CT scan is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that is painless and generally takes no more than 10 to 30 minutes to complete.
CT scans can be ordered for various reasons beyond cancer diagnosis, and are useful in the identification of everything from injury to heart disease. While CT scans are not used in the treatment of cancer, the images may be used to both diagnose specific cancers and track the progression of the disease (and the effectiveness of treatment) up to the point of remission.
Preparing for a CT
Instructions for CT scan prep may vary by patient and depend on the area of the body being scanned. Some patients may be instructed to avoid eating and drinking beginning at midnight the night before the procedure, while others may require a contrast dye injection just before the procedure begins. Your doctor or radiologist will provide you with detailed instructions prior to your own procedure date.
On the day of your procedure, you will be asked to remove any electronic or metal items, including clothing with zippers or buttons. You may be asked to wear a hospital gown before being instructed to lie down on the table, which will move your body through the CT scanner. During the scan, it will be important that you remain completely still, but the test itself is otherwise fairly easy to get through.