At Intermountain Healthcare, we know that Comfort Matters even when you may not be visiting one of our facilities under the best of circumstances.  The Intermountain Imaging Services team will do everything we can to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during your CT scan.  If you're cold during the test, we'll get you a warm blanket.  If you don't understand an instruction, we'll stop and gently explain it to you.  From the time you schedule your imaging test to the time you receive your results, we want your experience with Intermountain Imaging Services to be a comfortable one.

How long will it take?

Most CT scans usually take 15 minutes or less.  If your CT includes contrast, the test may be longer, depending on the type of contrast used.  Your doctor or the CT technician can tell you how much time your test will take.

What happens during the test?

  • Giving you contrast, if it will be used in your test.  Two types of contrast are most often used in CT scans - intravenous (IV) and oral.  If IV contrast will be used in your scan, a technician will place an IV in your wrist or arm to inject it during the test.  You may feel some warmth in the area for a few minutes after it is injected.  If oral contrast is used in your scan, you will need to drink it an hour before the scan begins.  (Note: In some cases, rectal contrast is given as an enema.  If this is the plan for your CT scan, ask your doctor for details, including preparation the night before.)

Learn more about Intravenous (IV) Contrast

  • Getting into position.  You'll lie on an exam table.  The table will slide into the CT machine, which looks like a large box with a hole in the middle.  You might see some lights.  The lights are used to make sure you're in the correct position.
  • Scanning.  A scanner inside the machine will take a series of images.  You may hear slight buzzing, whirring, or clicking sounds.  You may also move in and out of the scanner more than once.  The technician will control the scanner from another room, but he or she can see you and talk with you.
  • Lying still.  Movement can blur the images, so you will need to lie still during the scan.  The technician may ask you to hold your breath for short periods of time.

What happens after the test?

If contrast was used in your test, you may want to drink plenty of water to flush it out of your body.  A radiologist, a doctor with special training in reading the results of CT scans and other imaging tests, will analyze the images and send a report to your doctor.  Your doctor will tell you the results, usually in a follow-up appointment.  The information gained during the CT scan will help your doctor diagnose your condition and choose the best treatment.
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