Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Patient Care - CT (Computed Tomography) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Patient Care - CT (Computed Tomography) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

» How does a CT (Computed Tomography) procedure work?
» Is CT for everyone?
» How should I prepare for a CT procedure?
» What should I expect during the CT procedure?
» How long with the CT procedure last?


How does a CT (Computed Tomography) procedure work?

A Computed Tomography (CT) scan is a precise, simple and safe examination that creates a cross-sectional image of a specific anatomical part of the body. A thin beam of x-rays is read and recorded by an electronic detector, then fed into a computer. The computer constructs an image based on the data, which then may be transferred to film. Contrast media are substances given intravenously or orally to assist in viewing a particular area.

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Is CT for everyone?

While CT is an effective diagnostic tool, it may not be safe for people with certain medical conditions. Please inform your physician and the clinic personnel at the time of scheduling if any of the following apply to you:

  • Pregnant or breast feeding
  • Kidney problems
  • Diabetes
  • Prior allergy to iodine, contrast media or shellfish

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How should I prepare for a CT procedure?

On the evening prior to your procedure, you will receive a phone call from Houston Methodist Hospital staff confirming your appointment. During this call, you will be informed of any specific instructions. In general, the following preparations should be made:

  • Inform your physician of any medical conditions listed in the prior section.
  • Plan to arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled procedure time to complete paperwork and, if necessary, change clothes.
  • Please wear loose-fitting clothes without zippers or snaps. Metal objects create artifacts on the images.
  • If contrast will be used, please do not consume food or beverages 4 hours prior to the procedure.

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What should I expect during the CT procedure?

While the CT procedure requires a few basis steps, some aspects of your procedure may vary depending on the examination you’re schedule to receive.

  1. You will be asked to lay on a table that is connected to the CT scanner.
  2. The area of your body that is being examined will be positioned in the middle of a large, doughnut-shaped scanner ring or gantry. The ring is not enclosed so claustrophobia is not an issue.
  3. A technologist will be in constant communication with you during the procedure through a two-way intercom.
  4. You will be given instructions as to what you need to do. Please refrain from unnecessary movement during this stage. Body shifts may cause the images to blur resulting in portions of the exam to be repeated.
  5. The table will move in small increments. You may feel this slight movement and hear a low noise. The noise is due to the gantry rotating around. This is perfectly normal and should not cause concern.

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How long with the CT procedure last?

The length of your CT exam will vary from 10 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the specific examination requested by your physician.

 

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