How CT Scans Work

A CT (Computed Tomography) scan is a more sophisticated type of X-ray, produced with a dedicated machine.

The scanner is linked to a computer that takes the x-ray information and produces images of your body in “slices”- almost like a loaf of bread.

The Radiographer uses the computer to build up a picture of the whole area showing both soft tissue and bone; these images are then transmitted to one of our Radiologists, who will read the images and forward a written report to your Doctor.

Some scans require you to fast and/ or drink a special mixture before the appointment. Some scans require no preparation at all.

When you make your appointment, the practice staff will inform you of which preparation (if any) is required.

On the day of your examination, you will complete a medical history questionnaire and sign a consent form. As with any X-ray, females of childbearing age will be asked if they are pregnant.

To perform the CT scan, you will be asked to lie on the CT couch, which will move you slowly back & forth through the scanner. The machine does not touch you, & a recorded voice will let you know when to hold your breath (if necessary).

The Radiographer will be watching you through the observation window & will be ready to give your assistance if needed.

For some examinations you will be given an injection of intravenous contrast (or “X-ray dye”) if it is required.

Please indicate on the questionnaire if you have any relevant medical conditions or allergies before the injection.

There are some sensations that occasionally occur when intravenous contrast is injected; you may feel of warm throughout your body and get a metallic taste in the mouth- these feelings generally pass very quickly. Very occasionally transient side effects such as nausea or an itchy rash may occur, but other reactions are extremely rare.

The intravenous contrast will be excreted from your body (through the kidneys into the urine). It is colourless and you will not notice it when it occurs. There are no permanent effects from the contrast and your ability to drive/ return to work will not be affected.

Most examinations are completed within 15 minutes, although your total attendance time may take up to 1 hour for abdominal scans.

On completion of the procedure the pictures are processed and transmitted to the Radiologist, who will then examine the films and send a report to your referring doctor.

A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyse the images and send a report to your primary care or referring physician, who will share the results with you.