How you prepare

By Mayo Clinic Staff

How you prepare for a CT scan depends on which part of your body is being scanned. You may be asked to:

  • Take off some or all of your clothing and wear a hospital gown.
  • Remove any metal objects, such as a belt or jewelry, which might interfere with image results.
  • Stop eating for a few hours before your scan.

Contrast material

A special dye called a contrast material is needed for some CT scans, to help highlight the areas of your body being examined. The contrast material blocks X-rays and appears white on images, which can help emphasize blood vessels, intestines or other structures.

Contrast material can enter your body in a variety of ways:

  • Oral. If your esophagus or stomach is being scanned, you may need to swallow a liquid that contains contrast material. This drink may taste unpleasant.
  • Injection. Contrast agents can be injected through a vein in your arm, to help view your gallbladder, urinary tract, liver or blood vessels. You may experience a feeling of warmth during the injection or a metallic taste in your mouth.
  • Rectal. A contrast material may be inserted in your rectum to help visualize your intestines. This procedure can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable.

Preparing your small child for a scan

If your infant or toddler is having the CT scan, the doctor may recommend a sedative to keep your child calm and still. Movement blurs the images and may lead to inaccurate results. Ask your doctor how best to prepare your child.

Mar. 23, 2012