A computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan lets doctors see inside your body. It uses a combination of X-rays and software to create images of your organs, bones, and other soft tissues. Sometimes contrast is used to see even more clearly.
A CT scan is painless and can take anywhere between 1 to 30 minutes. There is some exposure to radiation, but it's minimal. If you have concerns, please call your doctor to learn more.
CTs are relatively quick scans and do not require you to enter a tunnel. The CT is open on both sides and while you may go through the opening, you are not encased entirely by the machine. The CT machines are not as loud as the MRI machines and do not require headphones or earplugs.
The technologist will assist you onto the CT exam table. They may use straps and pillows to adjust your position.
The technologist will go back to their workstation behind a clear window. They will be able to hear you and see you.
Then, the table will move slowly through the machine during the scan. Depending on the type of CT scan, the machine will make several passes back and forth. The exam may take anywhere from 1 to 30 minutes.
You may be told how to breathe - hold your breath, breathe normally, breathe out during the scanning.
After the scan is done, you will be asked to wait until the technologist reviews the images.