Computerized Tomography (CT Scan)

Computerized Tomography (CT) uses radiation to help diagnose and monitor a wide array of conditions. A CT scan produces more detailed images of organs, soft tissue, blood vessels, bone, and other internal structures. These exams include scans of the head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, extremities and some vascular contrast studies. A CT scanner has detectors that move around the body in a circular motion. This allows detailed images to be built up as you move through the scanner. The CT scans are 3D cross-sectional views of the body that can be viewed in a sequence, much like slices of bread stacked together. This allows radiologists and other healthcare providers to examine the body one narrow slice at a time. 

Using the CT scanner and a powerful computer, we can build 3-D images showing the soft tissues, bones and blood vessels, and see parts of the body that are difficult to view by any other method. Most CT examinations are simple, fast and painless.

As with all x-ray procedures, CT scans involve exposure to radiation, but the benefits of an accurate diagnosis far outweigh the risks. Each CT request is reviewed by the Radiologist to make sure the appropriate scan is performed.

Hours of operation for CT out patients:  Performed daily (no weekends).

Preparation

There are some CT scans that do not require any prep at all. However, depending on the area of the body being examined, you may be asked to fast for a period of time before your scan. For some examinations of the abdomen, you may be given some water or a special drink (oral contrast) before your scan. You will be advised by our CT team, or the ordering physician, or patient care provider if you require any special preparation.  The type of preparation required will determine what time you need to arrive for your CT scan. It will be important that you follow all instructions given for your appointment.

Once you arrive and registered for your CT at the hospital, you will be sent to the CT suite. At this time you will be given a questionnaire to complete, which asks you to provide information about medications you may be taking, known allergies and medical conditions.

Depending on the type of CT scan ordered, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown and housecoat.

Please inform us if you are taking any diabetic medication, may be pregnant, have kidney disease or have had a previous reaction to x-ray contrast. Please bring a list of all your current medications to your appointment.

Procedure

You will be asked to lie on a table, which will be moved into the centre of the scanner. This contains the x-ray tube and sensitive detectors. These rotate around the part of the body to be examined, but will not touch you.  The area of the body being scanned determines whether you will go head first or feet first into the scanner.  At this point, a trained technologist may start an IV in your arm if IV contrast (which is an iodine solution) is required for your scan. This is determined by the radiologist, prior to your arrival, based on the information provided by your referring healthcare provider. You may be asked to hold very still and may be required to hold your breath for a few seconds during the scan. If you need an injection of contrast you will be asked to sign a consent form before your examination. You will be monitored by our trained team members at all times.

Any movement causes blurring of the images. The Technologist will have to leave the room periodically, but can see you and communicate with you at all times.

Side Effects

Side effects from having a CT scan are very rare. During your procedure you will be exposed to a small amount of radiation. The benefits of detecting disease are believed to outweigh any potential risks from receiving such a small dose. We will use the least amount of radiation as possible during the scan to produce diagnostic quality images.

If you need to have an injection of contrast dye, it is quite common/normal to experience a warm flush and/or a metallic taste in your mouth and/or the feeling of wetting yourself. Occasionally some patients may experience transient nausea or an itchy rash. These side effects, if they occur, do not last very long. Other more severe allergic reactions are extremely rare and would be treated while you were on site. If you experience nausea, rash, or shortness of breath, please inform the technologist right away. 

Please inform the technologist if you think you might be pregnant or have an allergy to contrast before your scan.

Length of Procedure

Depending on the type of CT scan that has been ordered for you will determine the length of the scan.  The scans normally range from ten to thirty minutes once you are on the CT scanner.  The CT will be performed by trained and fully registered technologist and then reported by a fully qualified and accredited specialist radiologist (a medical doctor with specialist training in diagnostic imaging).  The CT images will be reviewed and interpreted by a radiologist and the results will be sent to your physician within 2-3 working days.

How to Book a CT Scan

Once it is decided that you are required to have a CT scan your physicians or patient care provider will fax a requisition to our Out Patient Booking office. The appointment will be faxed back and they will then contact you with the information and preparation needed for the exam.

Day of your Appointment

  • Patients should arrive 15 minutes before their appointment time (patients arriving late may be rescheduled)
  • Please bring your health card
  • Bring a written list of current medications
  • Wear loose fitting clothing with no buttons or zippers and remove any abdominal jewellery (no underwire bras)

Contraindications

  • Suspected pregnancy
  • Within 5 days of scheduled appointment, administration of radiopaque contrast (UGI, Barium Enema, CT with barium)
  • Please be aware that this is a "Fragrance Free" facility
  • Please do not bring small children to your appointment unless accompanied by another adult

Directions

Park in the North parking lot, located off Rolph Street and enter the hospital through the Emergency (ER) Entrance. Continue to Registration, up the hall and on the right.

If you have any questions or need to re-schedule your appointment, please contact our scheduling department at 519-842-6335 (Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. -4:00 p.m.).