An x-ray scan that utilizes a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the abdomen.

PARTS OF THE BODY INVOLVED

Abdomen

REASONS FOR PROCEDURE

A CT scan is done to study the organs and vascular system within the abdomen for signs of injuries, tumors, or other disease.

Your doctor may recommend an abdominal CT if you have the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Bowel changes
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Urinary difficulties
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained fever
  • Abdominal injury
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen

Many conditions and diseases can be diagnosed with an abdominal CT. These include:

  • Tumors and cysts
  • Spread of cancer form another location (metastases)
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Gall bladder disease, including gallstones
  • Pancreatitis
  • Abscess
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney disease
  • Bleeding in the abdomen
  • Liver disease

RISK FACTORS FOR COMPLICATIONS DURING THE PROCEDURE

None

WHAT TO EXPECT

Prior to Procedure - Depending on which tissues your doctor wants to examine, you may be given a contrast dye. If this is the case, do not eat or drink anything for 4 hours before your exam.

You'll remove your clothes and put on a hospital gown. You'll also need to remove all metal-containing items, including jewelry and watches.

During Procedure -. If a contrast dye is needed, it is either injected into a vein, or you will drink it in the form of a barium solution. You'll be positioned on a special movable table, called a gantry, part-way inside the CT scanner, which is usually donut-shaped.

Anesthesia - None

Description of the Procedure - The gantry advances you very slowly through the CT scanner. You'll need to be very still during the entire test. As the scanner takes pictures, you'll hear some humming and clicking. The technician will ask you to hold your breath at certain points, so that the picture is not blurred by movement. You are able to talk to the technician and/or doctor during the exam, so if you are in pain, frightened, or concerned in any way, you can communicate this immediately.

After Procedure - If you've received contrast dye, drink extra fluids to more quickly flush it out of your body.

How Long Will It Take? 10-60 minutes, depending on how much area must be scanned and how much detail is required.

Will It Hurt? The scan itself will not hurt, although you may feel restless. When you receive an injection of contrast dye, you may feel flushed, and you may notice a salty or metallic taste in your mouth. Some people experience brief nausea as the dye circulates.

Possible Complications - Allergic or anaphylactic response to contrast dye

Average Hospital Stay - None

Postoperative Care - None

OUTCOME

Your doctor should be able to spot any abnormalities in the organs and/or tissues within your abdomen.
Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occurs

YOU HAVE HAD CONTRAST DYE AND NOTICE:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Swollen, itchy eyes
  • Tightness of throat
  • Difficulty breathing

SOURCE:

Yale University School of Medicine Patient's Guide to Medical Tests. Houghton Mifflin, 1997.

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