diagnostic imaging and radiology

CT or CAT Scan

Advanced diagnostic imaging procedure

CT, also known as CAT scanning, is an advanced X-ray system that generates detailed cross-sectional images of the body. Each image provides the visual equivalent of a slice of your anatomy.

When stacked together, these slices create detailed studies of the organs as well as the head, spine, chest, abdomen and many other areas of the body. CT scans may be performed to help diagnose tumors, investigate internal bleeding, or check for other internal injuries or damage.

CT scans may be done with or without contrast. "Contrast" refers to a substance taken by mouth or injected into an intravenous (IV) line that causes the particular organ or tissue under study to be seen more clearly.

Contrast examinations may require you to fast before the procedure. Your doctor will let you know prior to the procedure.

CT scans can be done even if you have a pacemaker or aneurysm clip (devices implanted in your chest to help regulate your heartbeat). However, if you're pregnant or suspect you might be, tell your doctor. Your doctor may suggest postponing the procedure or choose an alternative exam that doesn't involve radiation, such as an ultrasound or MRI.

Before your CT scan

Some CT scans are enhanced by the use of IV or oral contrast. Prior to your exam you will receive pre-exam detailed instructions on how to prepare. You may be asked to wear a gown during your exam and you will need to remove all jewelry, dentures, hearing aids, and anything else that might interfere with the scan.

CT exams generally last 15-30 minutes. If your scan requires you to drink oral contrast prior to your exam, you will be asked to arrive one hour before your scan time.

During your CT scan

An ARRT-certified radiologic technologist will perform the exam. As the scan begins, you will hear a slight whirring sound from the CT machine. Our radiation technologist will position you on a table within the scanner's doughnut-shaped ring. The table will move you through the machine for the exam. To produce the clearest images possible, please lie still throughout the exam and follow the breathing instructions given. Your technologist can chat with you over the intercom if you have any questions or needs.

After your CT scan

You may be asked to wait for a short time after your exam while the radiologist reviews all the scans to ensure that the needed information has been obtained. Occasionally, repeat or additional scans are required.

Once your exam is complete, you may leave. Your results will be uploaded to MyChart and sent to your provider. If IV or oral contrast was used during your scan it is best to drink plenty of fluids afterward to help eliminate it from your body.

Radiation safety & CT scans

Adventist Health Portland and Gresham Imaging Center are committed to providing excellent image quality in order to ensure accurate diagnoses. We also adhere to best medical practice guidelines by minimizing the radiation dose to each and every patient. The concept known as ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) is employed to guide the balance between image quality and dose.