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Understanding CT



What is CT?

CT or CAT scan stands for computerized assisted tomography. A CT scan is an X-ray procedure enhanced by a computer. This results in a two- or three-dimensional view (referred to as a slice or cross-sectional) of a particular part of your body. It is like selecting a slice of bread out of a loaf.

Prior to the start of your CT exam, a technologist will explain the procedure to you. You may need to hold your breath at times, and an IV in your arm may be necessary if a contrast medium or dye is required. It is very important not to move during the exam. You will be positioned on a scan table. Then you will be moved into the scanner, which is an open chamber. The technologist will have you in full view at all times and be in constant communication via two-way microphones and monitors. During this brief time, you will hear humming of the equipment as it produces the images. The scan table will move as different images are produced.

The length of time for the exam varies from 15 to 60 minutes, depending on the study. The images are stored on a radiology computer system. A radiologist (a physician specializing in X-ray) will interpret the study, and a written report will be sent to your personal physician who ordered the exam.

Preparation for the Exam

Each CT exam has required preparations. The most frequently performed exams are listed, along with their preps. If the instructions for your exam are not listed, your physician will inform you about your exam or you may call Baptist Health Lexington's CT department at (859) 260-6159.

Abdomen
Food is permitted two hours before your exam. Drink a half bottle of the oral contrast "Cheetah" an hour before the exam and the remaining half bottle 30 minutes before exam time. Do not eat or drink anything after you ingest the Cheetah. IV contrast is routinely administered through an IV in the arm. The exam takes 15 to 30 minutes.

Pelvis
Food is permitted two hours before your exam. Drink half a bottle of the oral contrast "Cheetah" 90 minutes before the exam, and the remaining half bottle 60 minutes before exam time. Do not eat or drink anything else after you ingest the Cheetah. IV contrast is routinely administered through an IV in the arm. The exam takes 15 to 30 minutes.

Chest
Do not eat or drink two hours before exam time. IV contrast is routinely administered through an IV in the arm. The exam takes 15 to 30 minutes.

Head with Contrast
Do not eat or drink two hours before exam time. IV contrast is routinely administered through an IV in the arm. The exam takes 15 to 30 minutes.

Head without Contrast
No prep. The exam takes 15 minutes.

Important Information

Inform the technologist if you may be pregnant.

With IV Contrast Exams: 

The technologist will ask you several questions before your exam. This history will include previous allergies you have had, especially to iodine, a previous reaction to X-ray dye, renal (kidney) problems or diabetes.

  • Inform the technologist if you are taking Glucophage/metformin or Glucovance.
  • If a CT with contrast exam is ordered, a creatinine blood test may be ordered (if not done within the past six months) if you are 50 years of age or older, have diabetes or have renal problems.

If you feel any discomfort during contrast injection, tell the technologist. A temporary flush, wave of nausea or metallic taste in the mouth are common side effects, but should be reported to the technologist. If you observe any tenderness, swelling or problems in the area of the injection site or the arm where the contrast was administered within 48 hours after injection, call the CT department at (859) 260-6159 and talk with a CT technologist or the radiology nurse.

Some exams require that you drink a contrast liquid. If this is necessary, you will be informed about when to drink the contrast and where to obtain it.

Other Information

Your CT scan must be ordered by a physician. The physician's office will make the appointment for you with Baptist Health Lexington's radiology department. If you need to cancel your appointment, please call our scheduling department at (859) 260-6547 or 1-800-280-5090.

CT scans are also available at the following Baptist Health Lexington outpatient diagnostic centers:

  • Baptist Health Lexington Medical Plaza at Brannon Crossing, 100 Providence Way in Nicholasville
  • Baptist Health Lexington Outpatient Center at Hamburg, 1775 Alysheba Way
  • Baptist Health Lexington Medical Plaza Richmond, 107 Meridian Way off Barnes Mill Road in Richmond
  • Baptist Health Lexington Diagnostic Center at Southland, 100 Southland Drive at the corner of Nicholasville Road and Southland Drive

If you have questions about your hospital bill, please call the business office at (859) 620-6644. The radiologist's bill is separate from the hospital's. If you have questions about your bill from the radiologist, please call 1-877-459-2290.

You must be preregistered in the hospital computer system before the exam can be performed. Our registration staff may call you in advance to preregister you or you may register online. If not, you should first report to Baptist Health Lexington's registration area 30 minutes before your scheduled exam. If you are preregistered, you may go directly to the radiology waiting area located on the first floor of Building D (1740). If you are scheduled at one of the outpatient diagnostic centers, please report 30 minutes before your exam to allow for registration.