GI Procedures FAQs

Abdominal CT Scan


What is an abdominal/pelvic CT scan?

The abdominal and pelvic CT scan is used to assist in the detection of (amongst other diagnoses):

  • Cause of fever, abdominal pain or swelling
  • Hernias
  • Masses and tumors, including cancer
  • Infections or injury
  • Kidney stones
  • Appendicitis
  • Disorders of the female organs

How do you prepare for the abdominal CT scan test?

No eating or drinking 4 to 6 hours before the test.  A special dye, called contrast, helps certain areas show up better on the x-rays.  The contrast is given through a vein (IV) in your hand or forearm. You may feel a slight burning sensation, a metallic taste in the mouth and a warm flushing of the body, all which are normal and usually go away within a few seconds. Additional contrast is given by mouth so the radiologist can tell the bowel from other structures.

Make sure to tell your doctor if you have ever had a reaction to contrast or shellfish, or if you are taking diabetes medications, or if you have kidney problems, as the technique of the scan may need to be changed to prevent adverse reactions and complications.

How is the abdominal CT scan test performed?

You will lie on a table in the center of the CT scanner with your arms raised above your head.  The machine’s x-ray beam will rotate around you. You may be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time while images of your belly area are taken.  The scan usually takes 30 minutes.

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