How is a CAT scan done?


Quick Answer

During a CT scan, a patient lies on a table and is pushed through the gantry, the large hole in the middle of the machine, in a gentle manner, according to Mayo Clinic. The gantry rotates around the patient as it scans the body, and the machine makes intermittent noises.

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Full Answer

Before the scan, the CT technologist may inject a contrast material into the patient's bloodstream, says Mayo Clinic and UW Medicine. The contrast material increases visibility of the blood vessels and tissues within the body during the scan, notes UW Medicine. Because the contrast material carries some semblance of risk, patients are instructed to hydrate the body with plenty of fluids following the scan. It is the patient's responsibility to inform the technologist of certain health problems that may put him at risk for complications from the contrast material, such as severe allergies, prominent asthma, heart disease and kidney disease.

The patient must lie perfectly still in order for the machine to conduct an accurate scan, claims Mayo Clinic. Because of this, the table may be fitted with straps, pillows and even a head cradle to ensure the patient remains steady throughout the scan. The technologist may even ask the patient to hold his breath to ensure the image comes out clear.

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