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Patient Testimony: CT Scan

26th February 2021 Scans


CT scans (computer tomography/CAT) use X-rays along with a computer to create a detailed image of a portion inside the body including organs, blood vessels and bones. They are often used in cancer treatment to diagnose where metastasis are and to monitor progression of disease. 

You may be advised to avoid eating anything for several hours before your appointment to help make sure clear images are taken. If you wear clothing without metal (zips and buttons) you may not have to change into a hospital gown! Try to avoid wearing jewellery too. 

Sometimes a contrast dye is injected prior to the scan to improve the quality of the images.

The CT scanner is like a large ring like a “polo mint”, you normally lie on your back and the radiographer moves the bed in and out of the “polo mint” scanner ring. If you are having a scan of your chest, you will be asked to take a deep breath in and hold it for around 6 seconds. 

During the scan, you usually lie on your back on a flatbed that passes into the CT scanner.

The scanner consists of a ring that rotates around a small section of your body as you pass through it. If you are having the contrast dye injected, you may get a warm sensation on the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and a sensation that you have wet that you haven’t!! The scan will usually take around 10 to 20 minutes. 

CT scans are quick, painless and generally safe. But there's a small risk of an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used and there is exposure to X-ray radiation. 

CT scans take a few days to report on and the results are normally given by your oncology team.  

My experience of a CT Scan

By Danielle, Make 2nds Count Community Member: 

I have had 5 CT scans over the last year or so and have always had a good experience when having them. They will start by putting a cannula in a vein in your arm, this is for a contrast dye they put through it via a machine inside the scan room. You’ll go in and lay on the long bed on the scanning machine, you have a pillow and they will also give you a cushion to put under your knees to make you more comfortable. They then hook the cannula up to the contrast machine and you’ll be asked to put both arms flat above your head. ( it’s not uncomfortable at all ) they will then leave the room and you’ll follow the instructions the machine gives you. The radiographer will adjust the machine to the part of the body you need to have scanned, the machine will tell you to breath in and hold your breath while you're moved through the scanner which will only be a few seconds. I go through twice before they inject the contrast dye, when the dye goes in you get a warm sensation that will last a few seconds and you’ll go through the scanner again. The scan takes around 5 or so minutes and it’s not uncomfortable in the slightest. Once the scan is done they remove the cannula and you are free to leave, they do ask you to drink up to a litre of fluid before the scan and then drink plenty after to flush out the dye.