Hi, I’m Elliot Fishman, a radiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. In this short video I’d like to help explain and describe to you abdominal and pelvic computed tomography – commonly called CT or CAT scan or just computed tomography.
This study which was developed almost 40 years ago in part is a diagnostic imaging test that uses special x-ray equipment to help determine the cause of a range of problems in your abdomen or pelvis, including diseases of organs such as the liver, or pancreas, small bowel, colon or other internal organs.
If your doctor has scheduled you for a CT scan, there are several important things you can do to prepare.
First of all, tell your doctor about any recent illnesses, medical conditions and medications you’re taking and whether you have any allergies. If you have an allergy to contrast material, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
On the day of your exam, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything for a few hours before the study. Also, when you come for the study it’s important to wear loose, comfortable clothing. Preferably, leave jewelry or any metal accessories at home as they, if there in the scanning area these can affect the quality of the images. You will lie comfortably on an exam table which will move through the machine as it captures the CT images. You may be asked to hold your breath for literally what is simply a few seconds.
You may have some concerns about CT scans. However, it’s important to remember and to consider the likelihood of benefit of the exam to your health. While theoretically there’s a slight chance of cancer from excessive radiation exposure, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis from CT far outweighs the risk. The newest scanners have lower dose and that indeed is designed to reduce any potential risk. Inform your doctor if you’re pregnant, or if there’s a possibility you might be pregnant. Children of course should have a CT scan only if it’s essential for making an important diagnosis.
Remember, a CT scan is fast and easy and provides highly accurate and detailed images that can lead to more accurate diagnosis and treatment for you or any of your loved ones.
For more information about abdominal and pelvic CT, visit RadiologyInfo.org.