Having a CT scan can be an unnerving experience. With the proper preparation and a clear head, you can get through it with minimal discomfort.
Step 1: Inform your doctor Let your doctor know if you have any conditions which may render you ineligible for a CT scan, such as pregnancy, claustrophobia, or allergies to contrast dye prior to the appointment.
Step 2: Change your diet Be prepared to not eat solid foods at least four hours before your scan. Limit your intake of clear liquids, such as water, tea, and broth. In some cases, you will be asked to fast, but it's up to the discretion of the medical staff and depends on the procedure.
Step 3: Wear comfortable clothes Wear comfortable, loose clothes to your CT scan. Depending on the part of your body that's being scanned, you may have to remove some clothes.
TIP: You may have to disrobe and put on a hospital gown.
Step 4: Remove all metal Remove all of your jewelry before the scan, and remove any other objects that may contain metal, such as dentures, belt buckles, eyeglasses, zippers, and buttons.
Step 5: Use the contrast material Use the contrast material prescribed by your physician or technician. Depending on what is being scanned, such as your stomach, brain, or liver, you may need to take something to highlight part of your body. They are administered by the doctor performing the scan shortly before the procedure. Contrast materials can be administered orally, intravenously, or as an enema.
Step 6: Prepare a child Prepare a child who's having a CT scan by administering a sedative, or in rare cases, anesthesia. Movement blurs CT images, and a child may need assistance to remain still. Sedatives or anesthesia are provided at the facility by trained staff or anesthesiologists.
FACT: In 2009, researchers performed a CT scan on the ancient human ancestor, Lucy, who lived 3.2 million years ago, to study how her skeleton supported her movement and posture.