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CT Scans

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State-of-the-art, 64-, 128-, and 256-slice CT technology allows for improved image quality and speed.

Computed tomography (CT) uses x-rays to take pictures of sections of the body. A CT scan shows the body’s organs more clearly and in greater detail than regular x-rays.

CT scans help:

  • Find abnormalities in the body which may indicate disease
  • Determine how far a disease has spread
  • Show the effects of treatment and how your body is responding to it

Benefits of a 64-, 128-, or 256-slice CT Scan

Compared to conventional CT scanners, our state-of-the-art CT scanners offer improved image quality and speed.


  • Larger openings, allowing for better comfort
  • Faster scanning shortens the time patients must hold their breath
  • Four times the amount of detectors than conventional CT scanners
  • Entire body scans can be completed in about 30 seconds, including complexities of the heart, brain, and lungs

Clearer, more accurate images

  • Improved image quality
  • Crisp, 3D perspectives of blood vessels in seconds
  • Select scanners can image body parts near metal hardware that has been inserted during surgery

More precise treatments

  • Reveal how someone is responding to therapy, allowing for more precise treatments

Preparing for Your CT Scan

  • Some CT exams require an injection called an “iodinated contrast.” Please tell your doctor if you have ever had a reaction to an x-ray dye or to a topical antiseptic iodine, such as betadine. If you are sensitive to iodine, you will have to take medicine beginning 13 hours before your exam.
  • Wear comfortable clothing without zippers, metal buttons, or snaps.
  • If you plan to receive any sedation, arrange for someone to drive you home after your scan.
  • You can expect to resume your normal activities the same day as your test.

What to Expect During Your CT Scan

CT scanning usually takes less than 30 minutes. Some tests are shorter or longer, based on the number of areas tested and the equipment used. If an enhancing agent is used, the test will take longer.

Before your test:

  • You will put on a hospital gown
  • Remove all metal objects that might interfere with the scan

If a contrast enhancing agent is used, you’ll either receive it by:

  • Drinking it
  • An enema (inserted through the rectum)
  • An intravenous (IV) line in your arm

The IV enhancing agent may give you a brief sensation that moves up your arm and cause:

  • A warm, flushed feeling
  • A taste of salt or metal in your mouth
  • Nausea for a few minutes

This is normal, but you should tell the technologist about these or other reactions.

Tell the doctor or technologist, right away, if you experience:

  • Nausea for more than a few minutes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Itchiness
  • Sneezing

The CT scanner has a very large ring, like a donut standing upright. A narrow table moves through the center hole.

CT scans require you to remain very still. You will be asked to lie flat for your CT scan.


  • The technologist will help you onto the table and then go into a room behind a large window.
  • Through the intercom, the technologist will ask you to hold your breath for a short time and give you other directions. You can talk to the technologist through this intercom as well.
  • You will hear whirring sounds and the table will move.
  • When your scan is over, the technologist will help you off the table.

After Your CT Scan

If you Then
  • Had a change in diet before the scan
  • You may resume your normal diet
  • Drank an x-ray dye (oral contrast) or received an enhancing agent by IV
  • Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic fluids, throughout the day, to flush the agents out of your body
  • Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours after your scan
  • Can't drink fluids
  • You will be given fluids by IV
  • Have diarrhea that lasts longer than a day
  • Call your doctor

Your CT Scan Results

A board-certified radiologist studies your CT scans and reports the results to your doctor. Your scans are delivered to your doctor via our state-of-the-art computer system.

If your images are ever needed, they can be accessed by any UPMC hospital or facility at any time of the day or night.

Your doctor will discuss the results with you. Talk with your doctor or testing center about how to get your test results.