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How to Prepare for Your Imaging Test at UPMC

At UPMC Imaging Services, we aim to make your test as easy and stress-free as possible.

Our friendly staff will work closely with you and your health care team to make your imaging appointment. We'll also tell you how to prep for your imaging test and what to expect during the procedure.

Making an Appointment at UPMC Imaging

Our scheduling team makes it easy to set up an imaging appointment at a time and place that works best for you.

We have more than 100 imaging centers throughout Pennsylvania, western New York, and western Maryland. Contact the one closest to you to make an appointment.

When you make your appointment, let us know:

  • Of any special needs you may have.
  • If there's a chance you could be pregnant.
  • If you have any metal in your body.

Pre-Test Instructions

Your doctor will likely give you pre-test instructions on how to get ready for your imaging procedure. Be sure to ask them if you need to stop taking any medications before your test.

The UPMC Imaging team will provide you with a description of each test, including:

  • The types of diseases it can detect.
  • Common organs or parts of the body it scans.
  • What to expect during the exam.

What to Expect on the Day of Your Scan

On the day of your scheduled test:

  • Report to the imaging center's registration area near the lobby unless our staff told you otherwise.
  • You'll need to provide a list of any medications you take and show us your insurance card(s).
  • You may also need to complete your health history or sign forms.
  • We'll tell you how to get to the testing area you've registered.

When you get to the testing site, our receptionist will greet you. We'll let your imaging technologist know of your arrival and will start the test as soon as we can.

Imaging Tests and How to Get Ready for Yours

Below are some basic guidelines for preparing for each type of imaging procedure we offer. They may vary by location.

If you have questions, call the UPMC Imaging site where you have an appointment.

CT scan of the stomach or pelvis

Ask your doctor or call the imaging center where you're having your test for any pre-scan instructions.

MRI scan

Please inform us of any metal in your body when you make your appointment. We'll give you details on any other steps you should take to prepare for your MRI scan.

On the day of your scan, you will:

  • Change into a hospital gown for safety reasons.
  • Remove any metal, jewelry, or hairpins.
  • Wear earplugs during the test to reduce noise from the scanner.

Nuclear medicine tests

The UPMC Imaging team will give you pre-test prep instructions when you make your appointment.

Study times vary in length, but you should plan for three hours. In most cases, you should have nothing by mouth for five hours before your appointment.

Ultrasound of the gallbladder or stomach

Generally, you should have nothing by mouth for six hours before your appointment. This includes chewing gum and smoking cigarettes.

Ultrasound of the pelvis

In some cases, you may need to drink fluids until one hour before your test to fill your bladder.

Do not empty your bladder until after the test.

Obstetric ultrasound

No special pre-test prep is necessary.


Please try to get your prior mammogram films and reports and bring them with you to your appointment.

Do not use powders, talcs, sprays, or deodorants on your breasts and under your arms.

DXA (bone density) scan

Wait one week to have a DXA scan if you've had any:

  • X-rays using contrast such as barium.
  • IV contrast.
  • Nuclear medicine tests.

If you've scheduled any of those tests on the same day as your DXA scan, you must have the DXA first.

  • Do not take calcium supplements 24 hours before the scan.
  • Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit without metal zippers, buttons, or belts.

GI or small bowel test

Do not eat or drink anything after 10 p.m. the night before your exam. This includes chewing gum.

Barium or air contrast enema

We will give you details on how to prep when you make your appointment.

Please call the UPMC Imaging center for specific instructions for:

  • Children under 12.
  • Tests using contrast.
  • Those with a colostomy.

Study times vary in length.

Other Tips for a Smooth Imaging Test

  • For your safety, do not bring children with you to your test. If you have no other option, please bring an adult to watch your child during your scan.
  • Could you be pregnant? Tell the staff, even if there's only a possibility. Pregnant women should avoid most imaging procedures.
  • If you have asthma, bring your inhaler.
  • Bring a list of your medications with you.

After Your Imaging Test

You can leave UPMC Imaging once your test is complete unless your doctor says otherwise.

Your doctor should receive your test results within 24 hours. They'll contact you about your results unless you already scheduled a follow-up appointment or made other arrangements with their office.

You can also access your imaging test results through your UPMC patient portal account.

Call your doctor's office if you have questions about your test results.

Find an imaging location near you