What is CT Scanning of the Abdomen/Pelvis?
Computed tomography, more commonly known as a CT or CAT scan, is a diagnostic medical test that, like traditional x-rays, produces multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body.
The cross-sectional images generated during a CT scan can be reformatted in multiple planes, and can even generate three-dimensional images. These images can be viewed on a computer monitor, printed on film or transferred to a CD or DVD.
CT images of internal organs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater detail than traditional x-rays, particularly of soft tissues and blood vessels.
What are some common uses of the procedure?
This procedure is typically used to help diagnose the cause of abdominal or pelvic pain and diseases of the internal organs, small bowel and colon, such as:
- infections such as appendicitis, pyelonephritis or infected fluid collections, also known as abscesses.
- inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, pancreatitis or liver cirrhosis.
- cancers of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, ovaries and bladder as well as lymphoma.
- kidney and bladder stones.
- abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), injuries to abdominal organs such as the spleen, liver, kidneys or other internal organs in cases of trauma.
CT scanning of the abdomen/pelvis is also performed to:
- guide biopsies and other procedures such as abscess drainages and minimally invasive tumor treatments.
- plan for and assess the results of surgery, such as organ transplants.
- stage, plan and properly administer radiation treatments for tumors as well as monitor response to chemotherapy.
How should I prepare?
You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure.
Metal objects, including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins, may affect the CT images and should be left at home or removed prior to your exam. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids and removable dental work. Women will be asked to remove bras containing metal underwire. You may be asked to remove any piercings, if possible.
You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for a few hours beforehand, if contrast material will be used in your exam. You should inform your physician of all medications you are taking and if you have any allergies. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, or "dye," your doctor may prescribe medications (usually a steroid) to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. These medications generally need to be taken 12 hours prior to administration of contrast material. To avoid unnecessary delays, contact your doctor before the exact time of your exam.
Also inform your doctor of any recent illnesses or other medical conditions and whether you have a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems. Any of these conditions may increase the risk of an unusual adverse effect.
Women should always inform their physician and the CT technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant.
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