Campuses: FH.com Home button

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

How is a CT or CAT scan performed?

CT scans can be performed on an outpatient basis, unless they are part of a patient's inpatient care. Although each facility may have specific protocols in place, generally, CT scans follow this process:

  1. When the patient arrives for the CT scan, he or she will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that may interfere with the scan.
  2. If the patient will be having a procedure done with contrast, an intravenous (IV) line will be started in the hand or arm for injection of the contrast medication. For oral contrast, the patient will be given medication to swallow.
  3. The patient will lie on a scan table that slides into a large, circular opening of the scanning machine.
  4. The CT staff will be in another room where the scanner controls are located. However, the patient will be in constant sight of the staff through a window. Speakers inside the scanner will enable the staff to communicate with and hear the patient. The patient will have a call bell so that he or she can let the staff know if he or she has any problems during the procedure.
  5. As the scanner begins to rotate around the patient, X-rays will pass through the body for short amounts of time.
  6. The X-rays absorbed by the body's tissues will be detected by the scanner and transmitted to the computer.
  7. The computer will transform the information into an image to be interpreted by the radiologist.
  8. It is very important that the patient remain very still during the procedure. You may be asked to hold your breath at various times during the procedure.
  9. The technologist will be watching the patient at all times and will be in constant communication.
  10. The patient may be asked to wait for a short period of time while the radiologist examines the scans to make sure they are clear. If the scans are not clear enough to obtain adequate information, the patient may need to have additional scans performed.

Locations for Computed Tomography (CT) Scan