CT scanning

CT scanning

CT scans

CTAll patients attending the department for a CT scan will have received a copy of the CT information leaflet with their appointment letter. This can also be found at the bottom of the page or in the PILS link from the front page. This is a generic leaflet. For more specialised CT examinations, there are more detailed leaflets. These can be found in the PILS link from the front page.

Where is the CT scanner?

The CT scanning department is located in Radiology on level B of the hospital. You will be required to book in at front reception (although if your scan is after 17:00 or at the weekend, there will be signage for you to follow).

You will then be directed to the waiting area where either a volunteer will see you, or a radiographer will come out to you. You are invited to take a seat whilst you wait.

What is a CT scan?

A CT scan is an imaging investigation using X-rays. It is a performed on a specialised scanner which gives very detailed cross sectional images of the body. This helps us to look at your body more accurately than is possible using ordinary X-rays. The scanner consists of a ‘doughnut-shaped’ structure, or gantry, about two feet thick with a hole in its centre, through which you pass while lying on a couch. Here is a picture of a CT scanner to show you what it looks like.

How can a CT help?

The CT scan enables diagnosis and follow-up of many disorders, diseases and injuries affecting the body’s tissues and internal organs. Your doctor will have explained to you why you need to have a CT scan.

What are the risks of having a CT?

All treatments and procedures have risks and we will talk to you about the risks of having a CT scan. Like any X-ray examination, this test uses radiation but we will keep the radiation dose for your examination as low as we possibly can. Many CT examinations involve having a contrast media (X-ray dye) injected. There is a small risk of a reaction to the contrast but before we proceed we ask you a number of safety questions in order to identify whether you are at risk of an adverse event occurring. The contrast media we use is Iodine based; please inform staff if you have had any previous reactions to Iodine based dyes.

What will happen if I choose not to have CT?

The doctor that has referred you for the CT scan will discuss with you any alternative tests that are available.

What alternatives are available?

Other scans available include MRI or ultrasound, but these may be not suitable depending on the area of the body to be scanned. Some patients are unable to have MRI scans if they have pacemakers, or some other types of metallic or electronic implants. For your visit today, the doctors have decided the CT is the most suitable scan and will give them the most useful information for diagnosis and treatment

How should I prepare for a CT?

You will be sent specific preparation instructions with your appointment letter which will relate to the area of the body to be scanned. For some scans patients are asked not to eat anything for a few hours before the scan. This is because an injection of contrast media will be given during the scan.

Unless you have been told otherwise, you may eat and drink normally before the scan. If you are diabetic, it is advisable to bring some food with you to have after the scan. You do not need to stop taking any of your medication either before or after the scan.

If you take any medication, please continue to take this as normal.

Asking for your consent

We want to involve you in all the decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to go ahead with the CT scan, by law we must ask you to consent to the test. This confirms that you agree to have the procedure and understand what it involves. The doctor that referred you for the CT scan will explain the risks, benefits and any alternative tests. If you are unsure about any aspect of your CT scan, please do not hesitate to speak to either your doctor, or the radiographer who will carry out the CT scan.

CT ReportingWhat happens during a CT?

Depending on the area of your body being scanned, it may be necessary for you to drink some water.

For some scans you may be asked to change into a gown, depending on the area of the body to be scanned. This will require you to undress down to your underwear, and put on the gown. Necklaces/chains will need to be removed, as will any bras with wires. You may bring your own gown if you wish, as long as the garment has no metallic zips, buttons or hooks.

You may also need an injection of contrast for the scan. This is a special X-ray dye which shows up the blood vessels and organs on the scan. If required for the scan, a member of staff will insert a cannula in your arm and ask you some questions regarding allergies and other relevant medical history.

You will lie on a bed and the scan involves passing through the scanner several times. You may be asked to breathe in and hold your breath. The breath holds are not long, often only for a few seconds at a time.

If needed, the contrast will be connected to your cannula and injected during the course of the scan. This can make you feel warm, give a metallic taste in the mouth and may give a sensation like you are going to the toilet. These are only sensations, and won’t last very long. The CT scan usually takes around 10 minutes with you in the room.

Who will perform the CT scan?

Your scan will be performed by radiographers. Some procedures may involve a radiologist and nurse, and as we are teaching hospital, there may be some students in attendance.

What should I expect after a CT?

You can generally leave straight away. If you had an injection of contrast media for the scan, the cannula will be removed from your arm before you leave. There should be no lasting effects you will feel from the contrast.

How will I get my results?

Your scan will be reported by a radiologist and the report will be sent back to the doctor who referred you for the scan for your next outpatient appointment. They will not usually be sent back to your own GP.

Contact details

For appointment enquiries please contact:

01483 571122 ext. 4414/4151

Between 08:30-16:30

©2017 Royal Surrey County Hospital

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