A CT (computed tomography or CAT) scan uses x-rays to take cross sectional images of organs, tissues and blood vessels all over the body. CT is useful because you can see detailed images of different parts of the body. CT allows many pictures to be taken in a very short amount of time. You will be lying down for any CT exam you have. 

Depending on the reason the test is being done, you may be given contrast. Contrast is a substance that highlights tissues and blood vessels. Contrast may be given in a variety of ways including, IV, oral, or both. If you have an allergy to contrast or iodine, please notify your doctor before the day of your scan, as you may need to be pre-medicated.

Patient Instructions

  • Be sure to bring a list of your medications to your appointment.
  • CT chest, neck, or head with contrast: Clear liquids only four hours before exam. You will get an IV and contrast for this scan.
  • CT abdomen and pelvis with contrast: Do not eat or drink for four hours before your exam. Please complete the oral prep two hours before your exam. You will get an IV for this scan.
  • Any study ordered as an angio (looking specifically at arteries), including head, neck (carotids), chest (aneurysm), abdomen and pelvis (aneurysm), aorta with runoff (down the legs): Clear liquids only four hours before your exam. You will get an IV and contrast for these scans.

CT of the Heart:

Clear liquids only four hours before your exam with no caffeine after 10 p.m. the night before exam — you will get an IV and contrast for this scan. The ordering doctor will prescribe medications for you to take the night before and/or the morning of the test.

CT-Guided Biopsy or Drainage:

Do not eat or drink for eight hours before your procedure. You must bring someone with you to your appointment to drive you home. Stop any blood thinners you may be taking according to the following protocol:

  • Aspirin - to be withheld for 7 days
  • Plavix - to be withheld for 7 days
  • Coumadin - to be withheld for 5 days
  • IV Heparin - to be withheld for 5 hours
  • Subcutaneous heparin - to be withheld 12 hours
  • Fragmin - to be withheld 12 hours
  • Lovenox - to be withheld 12 hours

If you have not been told to do this, contact your ordering physician as early as possible before the day of your procedure. For your safety, you will need to be rescheduled.

How will I get my results?

An interpreting physician (usually a radiologist) will read your exam and make a final diagnosis. His interpretation will be converted to a written report, which will be sent to the physician who ordered your exam. Your physician should present the findings of your exam to you. You may also sign up for a patient portal account at mycrmchealth.org to read your results online.