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CT stands for Computed Tomography, also referred to as a Cat Scan. A CT is a rapid, painless diagnostic procedure that uses x-rays (ionizing radiation) and computers to obtain detailed cross-sectional images of the tissues and organs of the body. A CT scan allows the radiologist to see the location, nature, and extent of many different diseases or abnormalities inside your body. What are the uses and advantages of a CT scan? CT provides more detailed information than plain x-rays because it examines the body slice by slice, from all angles, using 3-D imaging. Doctors use CT scans to diagnose and treat a wide variety of problems including trauma, pulmonary embolus, kidney stones, back pain, boney abnormalities, and cancer. CT is also used as a screening tool to detect calcium plaque in the coronary arteries or polyps in the colon. What are the risks of a CT scan? CT uses multiple low dose x-rays which are taken in sequence by a rotating x-ray tube. The technologist will take special care to ensure maximum radiation safety. In addition, our CT scanners have built in methods of reducing the amount of radiation exposure. Some CT scans require an iodine contrast agent to better visualize the organs of the body. Be sure to inform the technologist and your doctor if you are allergic to iodine. The risk of a serious reaction to iodine is rare; however, special precautions will be taken if there is a known allergy to iodine. Please inform the technologist and your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or diabetic. What will I experience during my CT exam? You will be asked to lie still on a table for approximately 5-10 minutes and follow any breathing instructions that are appropriate for your exam. The table top will move you through a gantry (shaped like a big doughnut) which houses the x-ray tube and a set of detectors. Images are acquired by detectors that pick up the x-rays that pass through your body. The computer takes this information and puts together a 3-D image of your body. You will be alone in the room as the scan is being performed, but the technologist will be able to see and hear you at all times. Depending on the type of exam, you may be asked to drink a contrast agent or to receive intravenous (IV) contrast. Oral contrast agents are only used for abdominal and pelvic CT exams to aid in the visualization of the stomach and intestines. If your exam requires IV contrast, a small catheter will be placed in a vein in your arm. During the administration of contrast, you may experience a warm sensation throughout your body and/or a metallic taste in your mouth. Not everyone experiences these feelings and any sensation you experience will go away within a few minutes of the injection. For information on how to prepare for this exam, click here.