A CT Scan is a medical imaging procedure used to detect muscle and bone disorders, internal injuries, and certain diseases. Oftentimes, it requires preparation to ensure your comfort and avoid nausea and discomfort while being scanned.
How to Prepare for Your CT Scan
The preparations before a CT scan may differ from patient to patient, so it is best to always consult with your doctor. In addition, there are instances when a person can’t prepare for an exam; this is particularly true for a car accident victim or anyone who suffers from traumatic injuries who generally needs an immediate imaging scan.
If you are scheduled for a CT scan, your doctor may ask you to avoid drinking and eating at least four hours before your exam. The idea is to eliminate or at least reduce the risk of discomfort and throwing up while lying down.
Food restriction is particularly important if you’re going to receive an injection of contrast dye, which is used if there is a need for a clearer image of the chest area. For some patients, the solution causes them to feel nauseated, so it is ideal to come to the exam with an empty stomach.
Your doctor may recommend a blood test before your scheduled CT scan to ensure that the right contrast dye will be used during the procedure.
Patients allergic to contrast dye injection, which contains iodine, may need to take a steroid medication the night before and morning of the scheduled CT scan. Sometimes, doctors also include antihistamine drugs (e.g., Benadryl) to further eliminate the risk of allergic reactions.
Depending on why you’re getting an exam, you may need to consume a large glass of oral contrast dye, which is a liquid containing Gastrografin or barium. This prep solution is commonly used for patients who need their abdominal area scanned.
(Note: While most patients are instructed not to eat solid foods, they are generally allowed to drink water, decaffeinated tea or coffee, and juice.)
A good rule of thumb is to arrive at least 30 minutes before your CT scan to allow the examination to stay on schedule.
Wear Comfortable, Loose-Fitting Clothing to Your Exam
While your healthcare provider will most likely give you a gown, it still makes sense to wear comfortable clothes to your exam. Also, don’t wear metal objects like eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, clothes with metal zippers and buttons, or even dentures while inside the tunnel-like part of the CT scan because they might affect the images.
Related article: Managing Claustrophobia and Anxiety During Your CT Scan
During the Exam
During the test, you will lie on your back on a table that slides through a tunnel-like scanner. If your exam requires an IV contrast dye, your healthcare provider will inject it into your arm.
The contrast dye injection may result in nausea, a “flushed” sensation, or even a slight metallic taste in your mouth.
Once you’re inside the tunnel-like scanner, you will need to stay as still as possible to avoid blurring the images. On average, the scan itself only takes between 10 and 30 minutes.
After the CT Scan
You can return to your normal activities after your scan. However, your healthcare provider may ask you to stay for a few minutes to ensure that you don’t feel any discomfort or nausea, which is a common mild side effect of contrast dye. To help your kidney remove the contrast dye from your body, he may also require you to drink lots of water.
To learn more about mobile CT scan, contact Catalina Imaging at (844) 949-1664. We are a reputable mobile CT company based in Placer County, California, with a combined 50 years of experience.