CT/CAT Scan (Computerized Axial Tomography)

A Computerized Axial Tomography, also called CT or CAT scan, is an X-ray procedure that combines many X-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views of the internal organs and structures of the body. A CT scan is used to define normal and abnormal structures in the body or assist in procedures by helping to accurately guide the placement of instruments or treatments.

A large donut-shaped X-ray machine takes X-ray images at many different angles around the body. These images are processed by a computer to produce cross-sectional pictures or "slices" of the body. When many slices are taken, the computer can put them together to form a three dimensional image. The images are viewed on a computer screen by a Radiologist who uses them to help make a diagnosis or to help in determining treatment options. The images are then stored on a large database and can be retrieved quickly at any time for further comparisons.

When Arriving for Your CT Scan

  • If someone accompanies you, a waiting room for visitors is located just outside the Radiology Department.
  • If you are scheduled for your exam please report to Outpatient Registration, 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time.
  • If you are not scheduled, if you have questions or are unable to keep your scheduled appointment, call Scheduling at (985) 730-6804.

How Do I Prepare?

  • Be sure to wear comfortable clothes.
  • Bring a list of all the medications you are taking; do not bring the actual medications.
  • Depending on the study being done, you may or may not have to fast from eating, drinking, and taking medications several hours prior to the test.
  • To assist in the scan, very often a "contrast agent" is used. This agent contains iodine, which X-rays cannot penetrate. By injecting the agent into the body, the Radiologist can better see organs and structures that might not be seen otherwise. This contrast may make you a little nauseated.
  • Depending on what part of your body is being studied, you may also be instructed to drink oral contrast in one of two ways: two hours and one hour prior to your test or just one hour prior to your test. ReadiCat is available for pick-up before the day of the test. The contrast opacifies the GI tract and will aid the Radiologist with the diagnosis.
  • You will be asked to remove jewelry (please leave valuables at home), dentures or metal objects that might interfere with your scan.
  • You will be taken to a room that contains the CT scanner. Some patients are surprised by the size of the machine; however, it does not cause pain and does not touch you.
  • You will be asked to lie down on a moveable table. You will be positioned so that the part of your body to be examined lies in the middle of the scanner ring.
  • If indicated, an X-ray Technologist will then start an IV to administer the iodine contrast.
  • You'll be left alone in the room, but a Technologist will keep in close contact with you via an intercom and/or watch you through a glass window.
  • As the procedure begins, the table will start to move. It will slide you continuously through the ring. The Technologist may ask you to hold your breath. Keep absolutely still, so you don't blur the picture and have to repeat the process.
  • If a contrast is being used, a preliminary set of scans may be done before the agent is introduced. The scans will be repeated after the contrast has been injected.
  • Procedures vary in time from 2 to 30 minutes. However, please allow a few hours for preparation and completion of the test.

Getting the Results

After your study is completed, the Radiologist will study your examination and give a report to your doctor. Contact your physician to discuss the results.