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Computed tomography (CT) is a test that combines X-rays and computer scans. The result is a detailed picture that can show problems with soft tissues (such as the lining of your sinuses), organs (such as your kidneys or lungs), blood vessels, and bones.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you have ever had a reaction to contrast material ("X-ray dye"). If you have had a reaction, you may need to take medicine 12 hours before your scan, so be sure to tell your doctor ahead of time.
Be sure to mention the medications you take and ask if it is OK to take them before the test.
Be sure to follow the instructions your doctor gives you. You may need to stop eating and drinking a few hours before your CT.
You may need to drink oral contrast (a liquid that improves the image) 8 hours before your CT.
The test may take as little as 10 minutes, or last up to 2 hours, depending on whether contrast is used and the part of the body being scanned.
Arrive on time to check in.
When you arrive, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown. Remove all metal near the part of your body that will be scanned, including jewelry, eyeglasses, and dentures. Women may need to remove any bras that have metal underwire.
Be sure to tell the technologist if:
You have allergies or kidney problems
You take diabetes medication
You are pregnant or think you may be
You ate or drank anything before the test
You may be given contrast through an intravenous (IV) line or by injection.
You will lie on a table. The table slides into the CT scanner.
The technologist will ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds during your scan.
You can go back to your normal diet and activities right away. Any contrast will pass naturally through your body within a day.
Before leaving, you may need to wait briefly while your images are being reviewed. Your doctor will discuss the test results with you during a follow-up appointment or over the phone.
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