Computed tomography, also known as a CT or CAT scan, is a painless exam that combines X-rays with computer scans. A CT scan creates detailed pictures of your organs, tissues and bones and provides more detail than X-rays.
Your care team may use CT images to help diagnose injuries and diseases in nearly any part of the body, from head to toe.
What is a CT scan?
A CT scan takes images of your body in great detail, including bones as well as soft tissues and blood vessels. The information your doctor gets from your CT results can help diagnose a wide range of medical concerns, from injury and trauma to disorders and diseases. Your doctor can also use a CT scan to guide medical procedures or help plan your treatments.
Who can have a CT scan?
A CT scan can be beneficial for anyone who needs more specific information about their condition or injury. Talk with your radiology care team before your CT scan if you:
What does a CT scan diagnose?
Your care team can use CT images to help diagnose injuries and diseases in nearly any part of the body, from the head to the feet. A CT scan can:
What are the risks of a CT scan?
A CT scan involves brief exposure to a low dose of radiation. Doctors typically feel that the benefits of a CT scan far outweigh any slight potential risks due to minimal radiation exposure.
Before your CT scan
Before your CT scan, it is important to follow instructions, or you may have to schedule a new appointment:
- Tell your care team about any medicines you are taking. You may need to stop taking them for a short time.
- You may need to change your diet or stop eating or drinking for several hours.
- You may need to remove your jewelry or any clothing with metal on it.
- You will receive instructions about preparing for your exam.
Please follow your care team’s instructions about when to arrive for your exam. If you’ve had a CT scan on the same part of your body previously, please let your technician know so that we can compare old images to new ones.
What to expect during your CT scan
At the time of your CT scan, you may be asked to change into a gown. You will lie on a table that slides into a doughnut-shaped hole in the scanner. You will be asked to remain still and may be asked to hold your breath briefly. You can speak with your radiology care team. Your CT scan may take from 5 minutes to 1 hour. Most exams require 15 minutes or less.
Some exams require that you drink a contrast substance about an hour before your CT scan to enhance the image. Alternatively, you may receive the contrast by injection through an IV that will be placed prior to your CT scan. It may make you feel warm or cause a metallic taste. This is normal and will go away soon.
You may have an allergic reaction to the IV contrast. Our experts are highly trained and prepared to immediately resolve any reactions that may occur.
Recovery and results for a CT scan
After your CT scan, you may be asked to stay in the exam area while we review your images. You can go back to normal diet and activities after your exam. However, your care team may ask you to withhold some medicines.
If you received a contrast agent, it will pass through your system within 24 hours. Drink plenty of fluids to aid the process.
Our radiologist will review your exam and report the results to your doctor within 24 to 48 hours. Your doctor will contact you with the results. If you need a copy of your report or images, contact the Radiology Imaging Center at 913-588-6812.
Why choose us for a CT scan
Radiologists at The University of Kansas Health System are board-certified, highly experienced physicians dedicated to their specialties. All members of our imaging staff are registered and accredited by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
Leading research and clinical trials
As part of one of the nation's premier academic medical centers, our care providers are committed to research and scientific discovery through the University of Kansas Medical Center. We can often include our patients in potentially lifesaving clinical trials and treatment options not available anywhere else.