Frequently Asked Questions
Q&A: About Your CT Scan
What is a CT scan?
CT, which stands for Computed Tomography (sometimes referred to as a “CAT” scan), is a fast, painless diagnostic tool doctors can use to see inside the body. Physicians use the information they get from a CT scan to rule out or confirm the presence of certain abnormalities or diseases.
CT exams are quick and comfortable. You will be asked to lie still on a table as it gently moves you through a scanner. You may be given a contrast agent, either through an injection, orally or both.
Why is CT important?
CT scans allow doctors to see images of your internal organs and structures in great detail from a variety of angles. This gives physicians critical information more quickly and, in many cases, more economically than they could achieve with other tests or invasive techniques.
Is CT like an X-ray?
Yes. CT uses X-rays in conjunction with advanced computer technology to generate very accurate and detailed images of your internal organs and structures. Your technologist will step into a control room to conduct the actual exam. You may notice a mechanical noise coming from the scanner. This is just the X-ray tube being activated and rotating around your body.
Will the CT scan hurt?
No, CT is a painless, non-invasive test that will not hurt at all. Your exam might require that a contrast agent be given intravenously that will make your blood vessels and tissues more visible. You will then be asked to lie perfectly still once the technologist has positioned you appropriately on the table. You may also be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds during the exam. Any movement might require the exam to be repeated.
How long will my CT exam take?
The length of your CT exams depends on which particular study or studies your doctor has ordered. Most exams are quick and painless, lasting just a few minutes. You may be asked to arrive at the facility prior to your scheduled exam time if it requires oral contrast.
Do I have to do anything special to prepare for my CT scan?
How you prepare for your CT scan depends on what part of the body is being examined and the protocols used in your particular facility. In some cases the staff may ask you to change into a hospital gown for the exam. And you may be asked not to eat or drink anything before your exam.
What is a contrast agent?
A contrast agent is a liquid substance that makes certain tissues stand out more clearly against their surroundings, enabling the finest details to show up on the X-ray and thus improving diagnostic accuracy. You may be given the contrast agent intravenously or orally. In all cases the contrast agent will leave your body naturally within a few hours. If your exam does require a contrast agent, be sure to tell the technologist if you have any allergies, especially to iodine or shellfish, or a history of kidney disease.
How long will it take to get my results?
The CT scans take just a few minutes. The time the doctor takes to review the results varies. However, in most cases, your doctor will receive results in less than a day, if not sooner.
What parts of the body can a CT scanner evaluate?
Almost any part, since CT scans are used to view both soft tissue and bones.
Are there any people who shouldn’t get CT scans?
If you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant, or have allergies, you should inform your doctor and CT technician prior to your exam.
Can my family be present during the exam?
Typically, family members and/or friends are not permitted to stay with you in the CT room.
Will I be alone during the CT exam?
During your CT exam, you will be in contact with a technologist. Even when the technologist is not in the CT room, you will be able to communicate with him or her via intercom.
Q&A: About Your MR scan
Why are MR scans important?
MR scans allow doctors to see images of your internal organs and structures in great detail from many angles. This gives them information more quickly and, in many cases, more economically than past tests and exploratory surgeries.
Is an MR scan like an x-ray?
No. An MR scan uses a powerful magnet in conjunction with radio frequency waves to generate images of your internal organs and structures. It’s one of the least invasive tests that can see inside the body. However, metal interferes with the image formation, so removing all metal jewelry, hairpins, belts, etc. is very important.
How long will the exam take?
That will depend upon what is being studied, but a typical exam lasts between 20 and 60 minutes. You should allow extra time in case the exam lasts longer than expected.
What if I have claustrophobia?
The Philips 1.0 NT has a flared opening and a large diameter to help reduce claustrophobia. Please inform scheduling if you’re claustrophobic.
Does the machine make a lot of noise?
The magnet makes a slight rapping sound as images are being taken. In between scans the machine is quiet. The MR technologist will provide you with hearing protection, but its use will not prevent you from hearing the technologist if he or she speaks to you during the exam. Noise cancelling goggles are available as well.
Do I have to hold still the whole time?
It is important for image clarity and the best scan results to hold still during the exam. The technologist will inform you when you may move between scans. Keep in mind a routine exam can take at least 20 minutes.
Will I be alone?
You will be in contact with the technologist at all times. Even when he or she is not in the MR room, you will be able to talk to him or her via intercom. In some cases a family member is welcome to stay in the room with you during your scan.
Will I need a contrast agent?
Your MRI exam may require a contrast agent usually by intravenous route. MR scans do not usually require oral contrast. If your exam does require contrast, be sure to notify the technologist if you have any history of allergies.
Q&A: About Your EKG
What is an EKG use for?
Your doctor uses the EKG to:
- Assess your heart rhythm.
- Diagnose poor blood flow to the heart muscle (ischemia).
- Diagnose a heart attack.
- Evaluate certain abnormalities of your heart, such as an enlarged heart.
How Should I Prepare for an EKG?
To prepare for an EKG:
- Avoid oily or greasy skin creams and lotions the day of the test. They interfere with the electrode-skin contact.
- Avoid full-length hosiery, because electrodes need to be placed directly on the legs.
- Wear a shirt that can be easily removed to place the leads on the chest.
What Happens During an EKG?
During an EKG, a technician will attach 10 electrodes with adhesive pads to the skin of your chest, arms, and legs. Men may have chest hair shaved to allow a better connection. You will lie flat while the computer creates a picture, on graph paper, of the electrical impulses traveling through your heart. This is called a "resting" EKG. This same test may also be used to monitor your heart during exercise.
It takes about 10 minutes to attach the electrodes and complete the test, but the actual recording takes only a few seconds.
Your EKG patterns will be kept on file for later comparison with future EKG recordings.
If you have questions, be sure to ask your doctor.