What Is a CT Scan?
A computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan allows doctors to see inside your body. It uses a combination of X-rays and a computer to create pictures of your organs, bones, and other tissues. It uses sophisticated x-ray technology to help detect a variety of diseases and conditions. CT scans are fast, painless, noninvasive and accurate.
The CT scanner is typically a large, box-like machine with a hole, or short tunnel, in the center. You will lie on a narrow examination table that slides into and out of this tunnel. Rotating around you, the x-ray tube and electronic x-ray detectors are located opposite each other in a ring, called a gantry. The computer workstation that processes the imaging information is located in a separate control room, where the technologist operates the scanner and monitors your examination in direct visual contact and usually with the ability to hear and talk to you with the use of a speaker and microphone.
If an intravenous contrast material is used, you will feel a pinch when the needle is inserted into your vein. You may have a warm, flushed sensation during the injection of the contrast materials and you may also develop a metallic taste in your mouth that lasts for a short while. You may experience a sensation like you have to urinate; however, this is actually a contrast effect and subsides quickly.
If the contrast material is swallowed, you may find the taste mildly unpleasant; however, most patients can easily tolerate it. It can make your stomach feel full or bloated and an increasing feeling of having to urinate. It can also make you feel like having to have a bowel movement, if your contrast material is given by enema. This can feel uncomfortable for some people, but it doesn’t last.
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