How to Prepare for Your CT Scan

How to Prepare for Your CT Scan | patient consulting with doctor | blog article by Catalina Imaging

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. 


Food Restrictions

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.  


Blood Test 

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. 


Allergy Medications

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. 


Oral Solutions

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.)


Arrive Early 

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. 

CT Scan Rates Continue to Rise due to Patient-Generated Demands

CT Scan Rates Continue to Rise due to Patient-Generated Demands | blog article by Catalina Imaging

Over the past two decades, there has been a notable increase in CT scan rates due to contributing factors such as higher patient-generated demands, improvements in medical imaging technology, and an aging population.


A longitudinal study published in PMC showed that between 1997 and 2006, all medical imaging modalities increased in the US, with CT scan posting one of the highest with 14% yearly growth. This means that over the ten-year period, the number of patients who had the procedure more than doubled. 

CT Scan Rates Continue to Rise due to Patient-Generated Demands


Patient-Generated Demands 

Marketing research company Nielsen conducted a survey suggesting that today’s consumers are “willing to pay premium prices” to achieve their health goals. While millennials are the most proactive age group, the report has also shown that baby boomers–people born between 1946 and 1964–are also more engaged in their quest for “healthy aging” and “active and independent retirement.”  


Today’s more health-conscious consumers, according to some researchers, may be contributing to the increasing demand for CT scan and other medical imaging procedures that promote early diagnosis of diseases.


With early diagnosis of illnesses, California’s leading mobile CT scan provider Catalina Imaging says that “patients can access immediate treatments, which results in high success rate and lower mortality rate.”


In addition, patients are becoming more involved in their healthcare, with many even insisting on a more individualized approach. 


Aging Population 

Surveys have shown a strong correlation between CT scan patients and old age; this is not surprising since aging is a disease risk factor. 


Meanwhile, the US population is aging rapidly due to decreasing childbirth rates and longer life expectancy. In a 2017 US Census Bureau report, by 2030, when every baby boomer will reach the age of 65 years old, one out of five Americans will be of retirement age.  


And by 2035, the report projected that there would be around 78 million people aged 65 years and older versus 76.7 million under the age of 18. This means that within a few years, there will be more seniors than children for the first time in the country’s history. 


The aging population is not the only thing that contributes to the growing need for CT scans. Reports have also shown that the increasing popularity of homecare among the older population is another reason for the growing demand for bedside imaging. 


Improvement in Medical Imaging Technology

While CT scanners have been around since the early 70s, it was only in the late 90s when technological advancements made it possible to “shrink” their size, giving birth to mobile CT scans. 


Portable CT scanners–i.e., they are mounted on wheels and typically run on batteries–allow bedside imaging to become possible and fill in the gap left by fixed CT that is not accessible by some patients living in rural or remote areas. 


Aside from portability, modern CT scan designs produce faster and higher quality images, allowing doctors to diagnose patients with better accuracy and perform treatments with greater precision. 


How Mobile CT Improves Rural Healthcare 

In general, rural hospitals are only seen as critical care providers due to their outdated equipment, medical staff shortage, and other factors contributing to the healthcare disparity between city and rural areas. Furthermore, traveling for care has become a common practice even though this is not a viable option for all patients. 


But with the advent of mobile CT scanners and other similar equipment, rural hospitals can now better serve local patients, especially those in-home care. 


If you are a hospital administrator or radiology manager who needs a mobile CT scan, contact Catalina Imaging at (844) 949-1664 or at Our office is located at 3311 Swetzer Rd, Loomis, CA 95650.