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Computed tomography (CT) scan

A computed tomography (CT) scan is a medical imaging technique that uses a series of X-ray beams. They are safe for the body due to the low dose of radiation used and the special precautions taken during the examination.

What is a CT scan?

A CT scan produces very detailed images of the inside of the body. The scanner consists of an examination bed that slowly moves into the centre of a ring, which emits X-rays

and rotates around your body. Depending on indications, this technique can be used alongside other medical imaging techniques, such as an X-ray, ultrasound or MRI scan, or used alone.

How do I prepare for the examination?

When you arrive for your examination, you will go to the changing rooms and change into the gown you have been given. Depending on the examination, we will ask you to have an empty or comfortably full bladder. If you are pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, please let our staff know as soon as possible.

Special precautions must be taken in such cases. You must also inform the medical team if you suffer from any allergies.

What will happen during the examination?

In most examinations, a special dye, also called contrast medium, is injected in order for tissue to show up better on the images. It is usually administered at the elbow before the start of your CT scan. The contrast medium contains iodine and is usually well tolerated. You may experience a hot sensation throughout your body but this will quickly disappear. Depending on the area of your body being scanned, the contrast medium is usually administered in the form of a drink.

Your radiographer will let you know in advance about the process. He or she will ensure that you are lying comfortably in the correct position on the CT scanner table. You will usually lie on your back.

The examination usually takes between 15 and 50 minutes, depending on how long it takes to generate the most detailed images of the different areas of the body. Your cooperation is required at all times to ensure the best-quality images are produced. It is very important that you stay as still as possible and listen carefully to the instructions given by the radiographers. You are never alone; the radiographer will operate the scanner from the control room and be able to see you at all times through the glass and using a camera. You will also be able to communicate through an intercom system.

Who will give me the results?

A radiologist analyses and interprets the numerous images generated by the examination and writes a report. The report is then sent to the doctor who originally referred you for the CT scan and he or she will tell you the results. 

You should expect to hear from your doctor within a few days, however, for urgent cases, the radiographer may be able to provide an initial diagnosis by quickly looking over the images.

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