Mercy Medical Center North Iowa

CT Scan

What is a CT scan?
The Computed Tomography (CT) Scanner is a special x-ray machine, which uses computer techniques to produce images of your body.  The CT scanner is shaped like a doughnut and to obtain these images, the x-ray machine moves around your body while you lie on the table. During the scan an IV may be started for the injection of the intravenous (IV) contrast solution to better visualize the vessels and structures of the body part being imaged.  The ordering physician will be able to inform you if the IV contrast solution is needed.

Why did the doctor order this exam for me?
A CT scan can provide unique detailed information of your body with the use of a special computer. 

What is IV (intravenous) contrast?
IV contrast is a solution that is injected into your veins and appears bright on the CT images. This solution outlines the organs or vessels included in the scan.  When the IV contrast is injected into the vein you may experience a sensation of warmth for 1 to 2 minutes.  The IV contrast is then filtered from your blood by your kidneys and will be passed unnoticed.

What do I need to prepare for the CT exam?
Your ordering physician will provide you the detailed preparation information you will need for your CT scan when the exam is scheduled. Please notify your physician if you have any allergies to iodine or have had a previous allergic reaction to the x-ray  intravenous (IV) contrast solution.  Your diabetic medications also need to be noted before the CT exam is performed.  Please bring your list of diabetic medications with you when you come for the CT scan.

You may be requested to obtain a blood test called BUN and Creatinine prior to your CT exam.  Your requesting physician will schedule this test if needed

CT Scan of the Head and/or Sinus
There is no prep work required unless otherwise instructed by your physician.

CT Scan of the Neck
Please have nothing to eat or drink for 4 hours EXCEPT water prior to the CT Scan.

CT Scan of the Chest
Please have nothing to eat or drink for 4 hours EXCEPT water  prior to the CT Scan unless otherwise instructed by your physician.

CT Scans of the Abdomen and Pelvis
Please have nothing to eat or drink 4 hours EXCEPT water prior to the CT scan. You may be requested to drink an oral contrast solution for several hours prior to your scan. During the scan you may be requested to use an enema solution. This is to help outline your bowel for the CT scan.  The oral contrast may work like a laxative. Your requesting physician's office will provide you with this drink OR let you know how to pick it up at the radiology desk at Mercy Medical Center- North Iowa. 

CT Scans of the Spine or Extremities
There is no prep required.

What should I expect when I arrive at the hospital?
Please register for your exam at the Imaging Services Department (Radiology) located on the 1st floor of the hospital

What will I experience during my CT scan?
The CT technologist will bring you to the CT suite and explain the procedure and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the scan.  If the intravenous (IV) contrast solution is requested for the scan the CT technologist will review the IV contrast consent form with you before the scan.  During the consent process your allergies and diabetic medications will be noted. If you are diabetic please bring a list of your medications with you.  The scan may take approximately 10 to15minutes.  During the scan you will be asked to lie very still on the table as the x-ray machine moves around you. The CT technologist will be able to watch you during the entire exam from behind the window and talk to you on the microphone.  Please let us know what we can do to keep you comfortable.   During your visit to Mercy Medical Center we want to provide you with excellent care and will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Parents you are able to accompany your child during his/her CT exam.

What can I expect after the exam?

Resume your normal activities.

How will I get my results?

You will receive your results from your ordering physician.  You may receive a letter, a phone call, or have a follow up appointment with your physician.  If you are unsure of how you will receive your results, please contact your physician's office.