What is CT scanning?
CT scanning, sometimes called CAT scanning, is a painless X-ray test that helps clinicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. CT imaging uses special x-ray equipment to produce a number of images of the inside of the body.
A computer then processes them to produce cross-sectional pictures of the area being studied. CT scans provide greater clarity than conventional x-ray exams and allow doctors to see organs and soft tissues as well as bones.
What does the equipment look like?
It is not a tunnel. The CT scanner is 2 metres square by 1 metre deep. It has a large hole in the centre. You will lie on a bed which slides into an out of this hole.
Before your appointment
It is important that you follow all instructions given to you with regards to eating, drinking and taking medication before your appointment. Some patients may require special preparation before the scan. You will be advised of any necessary preparation in advance of your scan. If you have any queries or need advice please contact us on 020 7079 2100
Special instruction to female patients
If there is any possibility that you could be, or are pregnant please inform us when booking your appointment.
When you arrive you will be asked to complete a simple form. Tea, coffee and soft drinks are available if you are allowed to drink. Our waiting room has newspapers, magazines and internet access to make your short wait more pleasant.
On arrival, one or our Radiographers will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have.
Unfortunately, due to X-ray safety regulations, we cannot allow friends or relatives in the room during the scan.
The radiographer will take you into the scanning room and will ask you to lie on a bed. During the examination this will slowly move through the scanner. You will experience no discomfort but may hear some soft mechanical noise from the scanner. You will need to lay still and may be asked to hold your breath for brief periods.
The Radiographer operating the scanner can both see and hear you clearly throughout the procedure and can speak to you through an intercom.
Is this examination painful?
No. The Radiographer performing the examination will make you as comfortable as possible.
Will I need an injection?
Some CT scans require the injection of intravenous contrast agent (a dye which contains iodine) during the scan. This highlights the blood vessels and organs and gives us more information. You will be asked about any allergies but these contrast agents are very safe and do not have any after effects. The injection will be into a vein in your arm. The contrast will naturally pass through your bloodstream and into your urine invisibly. Please let us know if you are being treated for kidney, liver or heart disease/failure, thyrotoxicosis, myeloma, asthma, severe breathing difficulties or have any known allergies.
How long will it take?
Examination time depends on the areas to be scanned. A body scan usually takes only 5-10 minutes.
After the examination
There should be no after effects and you may eat and drink as usual.
Following the examination the images are processed and reviewed by a Radiologist who will provide your doctor with a report. You should make a follow up appointment with your doctor to discuss these results.