Questions People Often Have Before Their First CT Scan

Has your doctor referred you to a radiology center for a CT scan? This is a rather routine scan and can give your doctor a lot of information, but if this is your first time having such a scan, you probably have a few questions you'd like answered prior to your appointment.

What Does "CT" Stand For?

Sometimes doctors and radiologists are so used to calling this scan a CT scan that they forget their patients do not know what those initials stand for. CT means "Computerized Tomography." This scan uses x-rays, but they are sent through your body in cross-sections, generating a series of cross-sectional images on the computer screen. As such, a CT scan gives your radiologist a much more detailed look at your body's internal structures than that offered by a standard x-ray.

What Does a CT Scan Feel Like?

You won't feel a thing during the scan. You will lie back on a table, and that table will be pushed into a machine that is shaped like a donut. Then, over a period of about 10 to 15 minutes, the CT machine will generate images of your body. You'll just have to lie as still as possible during this time. When the scan is over, you'll be rolled back out of the machine.

Are There Risks Involved With a CT Scan?

There are no major risks to worry about. This is a very safe test. Sometimes patients are worried about the radiation they will be exposed to during a CT scan, but the amount of radiation used is very small. Plus, doctors track how much radiation you're exposed to annually via scans and other testing protocols, and they won't schedule you if you're near your limit. Almost nobody ever reaches this limit. 

What Happens After the Scan?

Usually, after your CT scan, you can go home or back to work. Since there are no medications used, you can drive after the procedure, assuming you are healthy enough to do so. Your doctor will review the scan images, often with input from a radiologist, and they will schedule a follow-up visit with you to review the results. 

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what to expect from your CT scan. It's a pretty straightforward test. If you have any additional questions prior to your appointment, call a radiology center, such as Elkview General Hospital, and ask.