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CT scan is a type of imaging test. It uses X-rays and computer technology to make images or slices of the body. A CT scan can make detailed pictures of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, organs, and blood vessels. They are more detailed than regular X-rays.
In a CT scan, an X-ray beam moves in a circle around your body. This allows many different views of the same part of the body. The X-ray information is sent to a computer that interprets the X-ray data and displays it on a monitor.
During some tests you receive a contrast dye which can be given orally or through a vein. This will make parts of your body show up better in the image.
CT scans of the pancreas can provide more detailed information about the pancreas than regular X-rays of the abdomen. CT scans can give healthcare providers more information related to injuries or diseases of the pancreas.
A CT scan of the pancreas may be used to check the pancreas for:
A CT scan may be done when another type of exam, such as an X-ray or physical exam, does not give enough information.
CT scans of the pancreas may be used to tell the difference between problems with the pancreas and disorders of the retroperitoneum. This is the back part of the abdomen. CT scans are also useful in diagnosing cancer of the pancreas and pancreatitis. Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a CT scan of the pancreas.
You may want to ask your healthcare provider about the amount of radiation used during the CT procedure and the risks related to your situation.
If you are pregnant or think you could be, tell your healthcare provider. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects.
If contrast dye is used, there is a risk for allergic reaction to the dye. Tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to or sensitive to medicines, contrast, or iodine.
If you have kidney failure or other kidney problems tell your healthcare provider. In some cases, the contrast dye can cause kidney failure, and people with kidney disease are more prone to kidney damage after contrast exposure.
If you take the diabetes medicines metformin or Glucophage, alert your healthcare provider before having IV contrast. It may be necessary to stop taking it 24 hours before and for 48 hours after your CT scan. A blood test may be needed before you can start taking metformin again.
There may be other risks depending on your condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
Certain things may make a CT scan of the pancreas less accurate. These include:
You may have a CT scan as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition.
Generally a CT scan of the pancreas follows this process:
While the CT scan itself causes no pain, having to lie still for the length of the procedure might cause some discomfort or pain, particularly if you’ve recently been injured or had surgery. The technologist will use all possible comfort measures and complete the procedure as quickly as possible to minimize any discomfort or pain.
If contrast dye was used, you may be watched for a period of time for any side effects or reactions to the contrast dye. These include itching, swelling, rash, or trouble breathing. Tell the radiologist or your healthcare provider right away if you notice any of these symptoms.
Tell your healthcare provider if you notice any pain, redness, or swelling at the IV site after you go home. These could be signs of infection or other type of reaction.
Otherwise you don't need any special care after a CT scan of the pancreas. You may go back to your usual diet and activities unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
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