What is a CT?

CT Scans — Computed Tomography or Computer Assisted Tomography/CAT Scans — are highly detailed, non-invasive and painless diagnostic imaging procedures. Using x-rays focused on one area of your body, our technologists acquire images from several angles to develop a cross-sectional picture of an isolated area of your body. With the added capability of 3D TeraRecon imaging, our radiologists obtain more information and have the ability to reconstruct CT images into 3D models they may then view and manipulate on state-of-the-art workstations. This allows your medical team to better identify abnormalities and treat you more effectively.

Why choose CT imaging?

Your doctor may order a CT study for any area of your body, commonly choosing this method for the head, chest, abdomen, neck, arteries and heart conditions. Some of our specialty exams and procedures include CT-guided biopsies of the lung, liver or bones; drainages to remove abnormal collections of fluid from the body; CT angiography and coronary CT angiography, low-dose pediatric CT, calcium scoring and CT lung screening.

Preparing for a CT exam

Not all CT exams require a specific preparation. Speak with your physician or ask our scheduling staff for any instructions prior to your visit. Be sure to disclose any allergies, and let your doctor know if there is any chance you could be pregnant.

For most exams, you will likely be able to wear loose-fitting clothes as long as they don’t have metal (jewelry, underwire, hairpins, etc.), though we may provide some patients with a gown for their procedure.

For some exams, our technologist may inject a contrast agent, or “dye,” intravenously to outline certain organs and blood vessels. This injection usually feels warm and may taste metallic for a minute or two. Other CT exams may require an oral contrast. For these exams, we will provide a fruit-flavored drink that you will take in our waiting area prior to your exam. Contrast helps to highlight the area of the body being imaged to provide a greater level of detail and a more accurate diagnosis. We use the least amount of contrast we can safely use with each patient to mitigate side effects.

Patients receiving oral contrast, please use this checklist:

  • Do not eat or drink anything for two hours before your exam to allow your contrast fluids to work most effectively.
  • For oral contrast, if you received your contrast fluids prior to your appointment, you do not need to refrigerate them. However, most of our patients find the beverage more palatable when it is cold.
  • Start drinking your fluids two hours prior to your exam.
  • Though the contrast fluids are not laxatives, they may give some patients diarrhea. This is not cause for concern. We use the lowest amount of contrast we can safely use with each patient to mitigate side effects.
  • Your doctor may ask you to discontinue your medications after your procedure, so please be prepared to discuss your prescriptions and any over-the-counter dosages with your doctor.

During the exam

Your entire CT exam at New Hartford Scanner Associates usually takes between 10 and 30 minutes, but the actual x-ray exposure time is much less than that. When you are ready, one of our technologists will help position you on an examination table that moves smoothly into the rotating scanner. This short, doughnut-shaped scanner is open on both ends, designed to rotate around you without making you feel confined. It makes whirring and clicking noises during the exam, but we will let you know when we plan to start and stop so you know when to lay still. We’ll ask you to communicate with your technician through the intercom as he or she operates the scanner from an adjacent room. We may ask you to hold your breath or make slight adjustments, but otherwise your only responsibility is to relax for this short procedure.

After the exam

Following your CT scan, you may resume your medications and food and drink consumption immediately. Some patients experience mild diarrhea from the contrast material, but this should not be cause for alarm. Your radiologist will compile your results for your physician, reporting his findings for you and your doctor to discuss at a follow-up appointment. In most cases, we provide same-day results, so talk to your physician about what schedule works best for you and your condition.