A computed tomography (CT) is an imaging exam that is acquired from a cross-
sectional plane of the body for bone and soft tissues; including organs, muscles, and
tumors. Each cross-sectional image is generated by a computer synthesis of x-ray transmission data obtained in many different directions in a given plane.
Computed Tomography Why It's Done
Your doctor may recommend a CT scan if you're experiencing signs and symptoms — such
as pain in your side/back or blood in your urine (hematuria) — that may be related to a
urinary tract disorder.
A CT may be used to help diagnose conditions that affect the urinary tract, such as:
- Kidney stones
- Bladder stones
- Tumors or cysts
- Structural abnormalities
How to prepare
Before a CT, tell your doctor if you:
Have had a previous reaction to contrast media (contrast iodine, IV contrast, CT contrast) which include:
- itching, hives, and shortness of breath
- Are pregnant or think you might be pregnant
- Are taking any medications, such as Metformin, Glucophage, or Glucovance
- Have a medical condition, including heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, or a prior organ transplantation
You may be asked to drink water before a CT and not urinate until after the scan is complete. This will help to: visualize your internal organs during the scan, hydrate you for your IV if contrast media is ordered, and it will help flush the contrast media out of your system after the scan is complete. However, depending on your condition, guidelines about eating, and drinking before your CT may vary as well.
If you are pregnant or think that you may be pregnant, tell your doctor prior to having a CT scan. Though the risk of exposure to ionizing radiation to an unborn baby is small, your doctor may consider whether it's necessary or if there is another imaging option available for an accurate diagnosis.
With contrast media, there is a slight risk of an allergic reaction. If you have ever experienced an allergic reaction, please let your doctor and healthcare team know prior. They will discuss options with you prior to being scheduled. An allergic reaction could be any of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
Before the CT
The CT Technologist will:
- Ask you questions about your medical history including medication allergies
- Ask you to remove any jewelry and/or any metal objects that may obscure the images
During a CT
You usually lie on your back, but sometimes will need to lie on your stomach or side. The table will move quickly through the scanner to acquire the correct amount of radiation for quality images. During the remainder of the scan, the table will move slowly through the machine while the images of the body are taken. If needed, the machine may make several passes. You may be asked to hold your breath during the scan to avoid the images being blurry or have a motion artifact.
If your doctor decides it would be beneficial, a contrast agent may be used. It is generally injected into a vein using an IV (intravenously), which may give you a warm, flushed sensation throughout parts of the body. Contrast material can also be swallowed leaving a metallic taste in your mouth or administered by enema. Your doctor will determine if either is necessary for your diagnosis. The CT takes cross-sectional image slices that are taken at specific time intervals during the scan following contrast material being administered so your doctor can clearly visualize your internal organs.
After a CT
When your CT is complete, the IV will be removed and covered with a dressing. You will be instructed to drink plenty of water following your CT scan, but otherwise, you may return to your normal activities. If there are any specific instructions, the CT Technologist will notify you after your scan.
A Radiologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating disease and injury, using medical imaging techniques such as x-rays, CT (computed tomography), and ultrasound. The radiologist will interpret the images from your CT and send a report to your doctor. Plan to discuss the results with your doctor at a follow-up appointment.
Adult Pediatric Urology & Urogynecology
The attentive, compassionate physicians, providers, and staff at Adult Pediatric Urology & Urogynecology are committed to providing innovative, quality patient care in our state-of-the-art facility.
From screening and prevention to treatment and recovery, our Omaha urologists will be there for you. Our team of dedicated physicians has been serving residents of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota for more than 25 years.