A CT scan is used to produce internal cross-sectional images of the body. The images aid the detection of disease and injury, allowing effective treatment planning.
What is a CT scan?
A Computed Tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays and a computer to obtain internal cross-sectional images of the body and organs. The detail in the images produced by a CT scan aids the detection of disease and injury, allowing effective treatment planning. The scans are carried out by specially trained operators called Radiographers.
How will I know if I need a CT scan?
If you require a CT scan, your healthcare professional will provide you with a referral and advise you of the next steps. CT scanning is used in a wide range of specialities including:
- Abdomen & pelvis (liver, abdomen, pelvis, gynaecology & prostate)
- Cardiology (heart)
- Colonography (large bowel)
- Enterography (small intestine)
- Musculoskeletal (MSK)
- Neurological (brain & spine)
- Vascular (blood vessels)
How can I book a CT scan?
To book a CT scan, you will need a referral from a healthcare professional. If you have an outpatient consultation with a Nuffield Health consultant, they will refer you for a scan if clinically appropriate. You can also use a referral from an external consultant, just email your referral to your chosen Nuffield Health hospital and a member of the team will call you back.
How should I prepare for a CT scan?
- Clothing: You may be required to change into a hospital gown for the scan. Wearing a hospital gown increases the quality of the imaging obtained, whilst reducing the radiation dose you receive during the scan. Where possible, please refrain from bringing too many accessory items or jewellery to your appointment.
- Food and drink: It is important to be hydrated, especially if you require contrast media (explained below) during your scan. Depending on the type of scan, you may be required to fast or hold a full bladder. You may be required to take a drink or follow a special diet prior to your appointment. All instructions specific to your scan will be explained to you when you book.
- Contrast media: In some cases, it is necessary to administer a special dye, called contrast media, into a vein during the scan to further enhance the images produced.
- Questions: If you have any questions or concerns about the scan, please do not hesitate to ask your healthcare team. They are there to support you throughout the process.
- Contact the team: Please contact the team prior to your scan if you are, or think you could be, pregnant, if you have any allergies or kidney problems, or if you are taking medication for diabetes, so that special arrangements can be made.
What happens during a CT scan?
- Getting ready: Your Radiographer will talk you through the process of having a CT scan and ensure that your safety questionnaire has been fully completed and reviewed. As mentioned above, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown and, if you are required to have contrast dye administered for your scan, this will be prepared.
- Positioning: You will be positioned on the scanning table and brought to the starting point of the scan.
- Breath holding: During most scans, there will be a recorded voice asking you to either hold your breath in, or hold your breath out, for the period of the scan (usually only a few seconds long). This breathing instruction is delivered clearly, and this helps us to obtain a high-quality scan. For certain specialist scans, the Radiographer will practice the breathing instructions with you.
- Planning scan: A planning scan will then be performed allowing the Radiographers to set up the main scan, at which time the contrast dye will be administered if required. The dye may lead you to feel warm and has been known to cause a metallic taste in the mouth during the length of the scan, these effects will be discussed with you by the Radiology team beforehand.
- Completion: Once you have re-dressed, you will be asked to remain in the Radiology department for a short time before you return home.
How long does a CT scan take?
Most CT scan appointments are approximately 30 minutes, though the scans themselves only take around 8 seconds. You may be asked to remain in the Radiology department for a short time after your scan, particularly if contrast dye was used.
Is a CT scan safe?
Like other X-ray imaging exams, CT scans expose you briefly to a small, targeted amount of ionizing radiation, The amount of radiation you're exposed to during a CT scan varies, depending on how much of your body is scanned. Generally, the amount of radiation you're exposed to during each scan is the equivalent of between a few months and a few years of exposure to natural radiation from the environment.
CT scanners are designed to make sure you're not exposed to unnecessarily high levels.
How/when will I receive my results?
Your results will be verified by a Radiologist and sent to your referring healthcare professional within a week of your appointment. Times may vary for specialist examinations, so we recommend checking with the hospital team before you leave. Your referrer may recommend a follow-up appointment to discuss your results.
How much does a CT scan cost?
Click here to navigate to the guide prices of scans at your chosen Nuffield Health hospital. Please note that we are only able to provide a guide price until your referral has been reviewed by one of our radiography professionals.
25 Beaconsfield Road, Glasgow, G12 0PJ
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