Your CT Scan

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What is a CT scan?
A CT scanner is a special X-ray machine which produces cross-sectional images of the body. You will lie on a couch which will move through a ‘polo’ shaped machine. Multiple images or pictures will be taken. These will be reported by a Radiologist. It takes about a second to produce each slice, so the scanning time is fairly short.

Am I required to make any special preparations?
Most, but not all CTs, require some preparation. Please read and follow any preparation instruction given in your appointment letter.

Parking at the Hospital
The hospital operates a pay on foot parking system. The current charges are £2.50 for the first hour, £3.50 up to three hours and £4.60 up to 6 hours. The hospital has plenty of car parking spaces but you may not be able to park close to the main entrance. You are advised to allow plenty of time to find a space before your appointment.

Where do I book in?
Please report to the reception desk in the main X-ray Department. You will find directions to the department in your appointment letter.

What happens next?
Upon collection you may be asked to remove any clothes or jewellery that may interfere with the scan. You will be given a hospital gown but you may prefer to bring your own dressing gown. It is important to inform the department if you are pregnant, or even if there is a chance that you might be pregnant. Similarly, you should point out if you have diabetes, asthma or any allergies.

What happens during the CT Scan?
You will be taken to the CT room and made comfortable lying on the scanner. The couch will be moved slowly to position the part of your body under investigation. The radiographers will retire to the control room but you will be able to talk to them via an intercom, and they will be watching you all the time. During the scan you may be asked to hold your breath or not swallow while each image is being produced. You may be given an injection of a contrast medium into a vein. Once the scanning is completed you will be able to visit a nearby toilet. If an injection has been given, you will be asked to remain in the waiting room for up to 30 minutes.

Will it be uncomfortable?
You might feel discomfort from lying still, and from having a full bladder or rectum. If you have an injection, this may cause a warm feeling for a few moments but if you feel any real discomfort or alarm speak to the radiographer.

How long will it take?
Unless you are delayed by having to wait, such as for an emergency patient, the entire procedure may take between 10 and 45 minutes. However, if you are given fluid to drink on arrival, you might have to wait up to an hour before entering the scanning room. The scanning process will then take about 20 minutes and your total time in the Department will be between 90 to 120 minutes.

Are there any risks?
There are some risks involved with CT scans as radiation is used. Depending on the body part being scanned, this is equal to the natural radiation we all receive from the atmosphere over a period of between 10 months and 7 years. You should not worry about this radiation, as your doctor feels he needs to investigate a potential problem, and the risk from not having the examination could be greater. Ask the radiographer if you have any concerns.

If you have an injection, there is a slight risk of an allergic reaction. Staff in the Radiology Department are trained to deal with any complications and again the risk involved is very small. It is possible that an reaction can occur up to a week after, if you develop itching or a skin rash you should contact your GP or the A&E Department at the hospital. Tell the radiographer if you have
previously had a reaction to contrast media when having a Kidney X-Ray (IVP/IVU) or CT. You must also inform the radiographer if you are aware that you have, or may have, a kidney disorder.

Are there any side effects?
Not usually. You may eat and drink normally afterward and may drive home or return to work.

When will I get the results?
The images will be examined shortly after your visit, and a report on the findings written. This may take some time to reach your referring doctor, but is normally available within 14 days. If it is decided more urgent treatment is required your Doctor will be informed.

If you have a query about having a CT, please ring the Radiology Department on 01908 995675, between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Web Links
For further information you may like to visit the following sites – For further information about Milton Keynes Hospital, including a map of the hospital and hospital parking. – This is the web site of the Royal College of Radiologists and click into the virtual hospital this will give you a lot of useful information about the work of a Radiology Department.

Adapted from ‘Information for Adult Patients having a CT Scan’ May 2001 © The Royal College of Radiologists.