What is a CT scan with contrast?
A computerized tomography (CT) scan combines a series of X-ray images that are taken from different angles around your body and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images (slices) of your bones and soft tissues. CT scans are more detailed than regular X-rays.
The procedure can be done with or without "contrast." Contrast is a substance taken by mouth or injected intravenously that makes the particular organ or tissue being studied seen more clearly.
Why would I get a CT scan with contrast?
A CT scan of the abdomen or pelvis is useful in the diagnosis of many diseases of the small bowel, colon, and other internal organs, and in figuring out the cause of unexplained pain. It is also useful in examining people with internal injuries
CT scan can provide guidance for biopsies or aspiration of tissue from the abdomen. It also may be used to evaluate the effects of treatment on abdominal tumors.
The presence of contrast can help make the internal structures of your body like the small bowel become more clear in imaging.
What happens during a CT scan?
You will be required to remove metal objects, such as a belt, jewelry, dentures, and eyeglasses.
Your doctor may ask you to fast for a certain period of time before the procedure if you are planning for a CT scan with contrast.
Contrast material may be given by 3 routes:
- Enema: Helpful in visualizing your intestines.
- Mouth: Helpful if the stomach or esophagus are being scanned.
- Injection: Helpful in visualizing your gallbladder, urinary tract, liver, or blood vessels.
You will lie on a scan table that slides into a large, circular opening of the scanning machine. The scanner will begin to rotate around you, and X-rays will pass through the body for short amounts of time. You may hear clicking sounds, which are normal.
What to expect after a CT scan?
The CT scan is considered to be safe and usually causes no pain. You can return to your normal routine after the exam.
You will be monitored for a few hours to check for any side effects like itching or difficulty breathing if a contrast media was injected during the procedure. Your doctor will tell you to drink lots of fluids to help your kidneys remove the contrast material from your body.
A radiologist will interpret these images and send a report to your physician. The report may take around a day to be available. Your physician will receive the report, and tell if you may need any surgical/medical treatment.
Mayo Clinic: CT scan