CT Scan - Experience

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What is a CT scan?

Computerized (or computed) tomography, and often formerly referred to as computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan, is an X-ray procedure that combines many X-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views and, if needed, three-dimensional images of the internal organs and structures of the body. Computerized tomography is more commonly known by its abbreviated names, CT scan or CAT scan. A CT scan is used to define normal and abnormal structures in the body and/or assist in procedures by helping to accurately guide the placement of instruments or treatments.

A large donut-shaped X-ray machine or scanner takes X-ray images at many different angles around the body. These images are processed by a computer to produce cross-sectional pictures of the body. In each of these pictures the body is seen as an X-ray "slice" of the body, which is recorded on a film. This recorded image is called a tomogram. "Computerized axial tomography" refers to the recorded tomogram "sections" at different levels of the body.

Imagine the body as a loaf of bread and you are looking at one end of the loaf. As you remove each slice of bread, you can see the entire surface of that slice from the crust to the center. The body is seen on CT scan slices in a similar fashion from the skin to the central part of the body being examined. When these levels are further "added" together, a three-dimensional picture of an organ or abnormal body structure can be obtained.

Return to CT Scan (Computerized Tomography)

See what others are saying

Comment from: missdiamond, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 01

I just had a CT scan with contrast. It was the worst experience. I had a headache prior and had to drink 3 cups of this gross drink and then get an IV with iodine. I had the weirdest taste in my mouth, and I felt like I had to use the bathroom. After I came home, I was sick all day with nausea and a headache and I couldn't eat. It was not a fun experience for me.

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Comment from: Mae, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 03

I have had about five CT scans now since April of 2013. One for diagnosis, one for biopsy, and the others to check progress of my tumors. One cannot eat for four hours beforehand and can have clear liquid up to two hours before. Once you arrive at the hospital, you drink barium (chocolate or berry flavored are my preferred kinds) and wait approximately an hour. When you are called back to the dressing room (wear loose clothing, no metal) I receive a needle and device for dye, sorry, I don"t know what it"s called, in my arm, drink another container of barium and get the CT scan done. You lay on a table that goes in and out of the doughnut (CT) machine, hold your breath and exhale as the machine tells you. After they take a couple of scans, the technician puts the dye in your arm. You may feel flushed and you"ll feel like you are peeing in your pants. You"re not. A couple of more inserts into the machine and you"re done. Drink lots of water afterwards and eat. I usually get diarrhea about two to three hours after the CT scan which gets rid of all the barium. I can usually taste the flavoring for a day or two but that"s all.

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