CT Scan: What to Expect

CT scans, also called computerized tomography, are used by Riverside urologists to examine the abdomen and pelvis. A CT scan is a type of X-ray exam that combines x-ray with powerful computers to create images of the inside of your body in cross section. Instead of taking a single x-ray, the CT scanner takes multiple images as it rotates around you. A computer takes these scans and creates an image that is a cross section of the part of the body being studied. Cross-sectional images, often compared to slices in a loaf of bread, show bones and soft tissue with greater clarity than regular x-rays.
Your urologist may use CT scans to diagnose and assess:
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Sources of blood in the urine
  • Kidney stones
  • Renal cysts and masses
  • Prostate, bladder and renal cancers
What to Expect:
Here's what to expect, step by step, when you have a CT scan.
Before the exam
  • You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure.
  • You'll be asked to remove your jewelry, hearing aids and eyeglasses. Objects with metal may affect the CT images.
  • If a contrast material or dye is used in your exam, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours beforehand.
  • You'll be asked about medications, allergies, recent illnesses and your medical history as some conditions may increase the risk of an unusual adverse effect.
  • If you are claustrophobic or staying still for a length of time will cause you pain, talk to your doctor in advance about a mild sedative.
The exam
CT exams are painless, fast and easy. The CT scanner is a box-like machine with a short tunnel in the center and a narrow examination table that slides into and out of this tunnel. The scanners and detectors form a ring that will rotate around you. The technologist will operate the scanner and monitor your examination from a separate windowed room, but you'll be in two-way communication with the technologist the entire time.

The process
  • The technologist begins by positioning you on the CT examination table so that you can be examined
  • If used, the contrast material will be injected through an IV or given orally
  • Next, the correct starting position will be set for the scans
  • The table will move through the tunnel very slowly as the scanning takes place
  • You will hear buzzing, clicking and whirring sounds as the CT scanner revolves around you
  • The scan takes anywhere from five to 30 minutes


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