The Computerized Axial Tomography or CAT Scan is a diagnostic test that uses x-ray imaging to create a cross-sectional or three-dimensional view of a particular body region. It may be used to view organs and other internal structures and is often incorporated during operations, procedures, or biopsies for a better internal view. CAT Scans are often used on patients with head injuries, and may be utilized for cancer diagnosis or bone problem identification.
A CAT scan is a painless, low-risk procedure producing minimal radiation. During a CAT Scan, a patient lies on a platform surrounded by a large circular shaped machine while a series of x-rays are used to generate an image for analysis by doctors. In some cases, an x-ray dye is injected or taken orally for better visibility of organs or blood vessels. It’s important for the patient to lay as still as possible during a CAT Scan as movement degrades the quality of the images produced. CAT Scans may last anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half.
PREPARING FOR YOUR PROCEDURE
- In preparation for a CAT scan, patients are often asked to avoid food, especially when contrast material is to be used. Contrast material may be injected intravenously, or administered by mouth or by an enema in order to increase the distinction between various organs or areas of the body. Therefore, fluids and food may be restricted for several hours prior to the examination.
- If the patient has a history of allergy to contrast material (such as iodine), the requesting physician and radiology staff should be notified.
- All metallic materials and certain clothing around the body are removed because they can interfere with the clarity of the images.