CT Scans

What is a CT scan?

A CT scan is a special type of X-ray test carried out by a radiographer that takes pictures of cross sections or slices of organs and structures in the body. Each scan or slice when put together, form a 3-D picture of the body. A CT scan offers detailed views of different tissue types including lungs, bones, soft tissues and blood vessels. CT scans are commonly performed on the head and abdomen. CT scans involve exposure to radiation in the form of X-rays, but the level of radiation used is kept to a minimum.

What are the benefits of a CT scan?

The pictures of a CT scan are more detailed than a typical X-ray.

How do CT scans work?

A head or spine scan should take about 30 minutes. A scan of the chest, abdomen and/or pelvis may take up to one and a half hours. The procedure is painless.

During the scan you will be asked to lie very still on the CT table. No equipment will touch you and nothing will close in on you – the scanner is an open hole, rather like a doughnut. 

For some scans you will be given an injection or a drink of a contrast agent (a radio-opaque dye). This allows the radiologist to see the parts of your body more clearly. A scan of the chest, abdomen and/or pelvis will take longer as you will need to drink or be injected with more contrast before the scan.

If you are, or there is a possibility you may be, pregnant please tell the radiographer before your scan.

For more information, and if you have any queries about the procedure, speak to your consultant.

Continue taking your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.

If you are diabetic please tell the radiology department.

It’s helpful if you bring any previous X-rays with you.

Do CT scans have any side effects?

The injection may make you feel hot and may give you a funny taste at the back of your throat. This is normal and should pass quickly.

How long will my CT scan results take?

Results will usually be sent to the doctor who referred you within two days of your CT scan. 

Paying for your procedure

CT scan costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the procedure will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the consultant radiologist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.

Want to look at other treatments? or find it on the A-Z list.