April 28, 2017

CT/CAT Scan FAQs

Imaging

What is a CT scan?

CT, which stands for computed tomography (sometimes referred to as a “CAT” scan), is a fast, painless diagnostic tool physicians can use to see inside the body. Physicians use the information they get from a CT scan to rule out or confirm the presence of certain abnormalities or diseases.

CT exams are quick and comfortable. You will be asked to lie still on a table as it gently moves you through a scanner. You may be given a contrast agent, either through an injection, orally or both.

Why is a CT scan important?

CT scans allow physicians to see images of your internal organs and structures in great detail from a variety of angles. This gives physicians critical information more quickly and, in many cases, more economically than they could achieve with other tests or invasive techniques.

Is a CT scan like an X-ray?

Yes. CT uses X-rays in conjunction with advanced computer technology to generate very accurate and detailed images of your internal organs and structures. Your technologist will step into a control room to conduct the actual exam. You may notice a mechanical noise coming from the scanner. This is just the X-ray tube being activated and rotating around your body.

Will the CT scan hurt?

No, CT is a painless, non-invasive test that will not hurt at all. Your exam might require that a contrast agent be given intravenously that will make your blood vessels and tissues more visible. You will then be asked to lie perfectly still once the technologist has positioned you appropriately on the table. You may also be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds during the exam. Any movement might require the exam to be repeated.

How long will my CT scan take?

The length of your CT exams depends on which particular study or studies your physician has ordered. Most exams are quick and painless, lasting 5 to 30 minutes. You may be asked to arrive at the facility prior to your scheduled exam time if it requires oral contrast.

Do I have to do anything special to prepare for my CT scan?

How you prepare for your CT scan depends on what part of the body is being examined. In some cases the staff may ask you to change into a hospital gown for the exam. And you may be asked not to eat or drink anything before your exam.

What is a contrast agent?

A contrast agent is a liquid substance that makes certain tissues stand out more clearly against their surroundings, enabling the finest details to show up on the X-ray and thus improving diagnostic accuracy. You may be given the contrast agent intravenously or orally. In all cases the contrast agent will leave your body naturally within a few hours. If your exam does require a contrast agent, be sure to tell the technologist if you have any allergies, especially to iodine or shellfish, or a history of kidney disease.

How long will it take to get my results?

The images of your exam will be read by board certified radiologists. The report of your exam is available to your physician generally within 24 hours. Your physician will discuss your test findings with you.

What parts of the body can a CT scanner evaluate?

Almost any part, since CT scans are used to view both soft tissue and bones.

Are there any people who shouldn’t get CT scans?

If you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant or have allergies, you should inform your physician and CT technician prior to your exam.

Can my family be present during the exam?

A friend or family member is welcome to come with you; however, they will have to wait outside of the room during your scan.

Will I be alone during the CT exam?

During your CT exam, you will be in contact with a technologist. Even when the technologist is not in the CT room, you will be able to communicate with him or her via intercom.

What will happen to me during the registration process?

You will be registered the day of your exam. This process takes about 15 minutes. You will be asked to provide your medical history in detail and sign consent forms.

Can I bring CD’s, or listen to music?

Your choice of music is available through Satellite radio. The scanner will interfere with your devices and therefore cannot be allowed into the scan room.

What if I need to cancel?

If you need to cancel your exam, please call us at least one day in advance at 317.802.2420.

What should I bring to the exam?

  • Please remember to bring all insurance information and ID cards.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown, but frequently a sweat suit or similar garment without any metal (zippers, metal buttons or snaps) is sufficient.
  • If you were instructed by your physician to obtain previous X-rays or MRI films, please remember to bring them with you.
  • Please leave all your valuables at home since you will not be able to wear most jewelry and watches in the scan room. The scan can affect these items. Lockers are available for safekeeping, but we cannot take responsibility for lost or stolen items.
  • You will be given specific instructions, depending on the area to be examined.

What are my rights as a patient?

We are committed to maintaining the rights of patients and will assure patient confidentiality, dignity, privacy and the right for you to understand and consent to the test.

Can I receive copies of my scan reports?

Upon your request, your films and reports are available for you to pick up. There may be a charge for medical records.  Please call us at 317.802.2459 to request copies.

What about payment for my CT scan?

The charges for your scan are usually covered by Medicare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicaid, various HMO’s and government employee programs, as well as by commercial insurance companies. As a courtesy, staff will verify your insurance coverage and inform you of any payment responsibility. For any balance, we accept MasterCard, Visa, personal checks or cash for payment. Please note that you will be billed separately by the radiologist for the read fee.

OrthoIndy Imaging offers X-ray (at most OrthoIndy locations), MRI, CT scans and ultrasound scans (CT and ultrasound available at OrthoIndy Hospital Main location only). Learn more about Imaging at OrthoIndy.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

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