How To Prepare for a CT Scan

Computed tomography is a type of medical imaging technique that produces cross-sectional X-rays of the body. These are much more detailed than what the more familiar plain films can produce. Pre-owned CT scan equipment is used to detect a wide range of conditions affecting the nervous system, respiratory system, musculoskeletal system, etc.

The CT scan takes about 15 minutes to complete. There are special steps you have to take beforehand in preparation for the examination.

Clothing and Accessories

You should present to your exam wearing clothing that is comfortable and loose-fitting, without any snaps or zippers. Image quality may be affected by metal objects such as these. You will be asked to remove all jewelry and any other metal components, such as hearing aids, hairpins, or glasses, for the same reason.


Some body structures show up more clearly on CT scan than others. To enhance visibility, you may be given a contrast medium, which “dyes” the affected structures temporarily so that they show up better on the scan. Often the contrast dye is injected into your veins, but it may also be administered orally or by rectum. To flush out the contrast after the scan, you should drink about five glasses of water.


You begin the exam by lying on a padded table. The table is motorized so it can move you gradually into the machine. You will be placed in the desired position and asked to remain very still while the scan takes place. Any movement could cause a blurring of the image, referred to as artifact. Significant artifact could make the image unusable, meaning that you would need a new scan.

Other Concerns

You should inform your doctor and/or radiologist of any health conditions such as diabetes, drug allergies, or current pregnancy. A cardioverter or pacemaker does not prevent you from having the scan, but it is something your providers should know about beforehand. You should also come prepared with a list of any prescription or nonprescription medications you are currently taking.

Richard Anderson


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