Youth Cancer

CT Scan

A CT Scan (also known as a CAT scan) takes a series of x-rays that build up a three-dimensional, very detailed image of your body.

How does it work?

A CT scanner takes pictures of the structures of the body using x-rays. CT stands for Computerised Axial Tomography.

How do I prepare?

  • You will be asked not to eat or drink for at least four hours before the scan.
  • Then, depending on what part of your body is to be scanned, you may be given something called 'contrast' to make things show up better on the scan. The contrast is usually given through an IV, or if you are having an abdominal scan, you may have to drink it.
It tastes really terrible but it's important. Just make sure it's cold and that you have a good 'chaser' nearby (soft drink or juice).

What’s it like?

  • The good thing about CTs is that they’re pretty quick and painless, but you need to lie very still to get a good scan. After the scan is done, it can be computer reconstructed to show 3D images of the part of your body that was scanned.
  • Because the machine produces x-rays, the technician is in a separate room near the computer, but they can talk with you through an intercom. You will probably be alone in the room, unless you request that someone be with you.

That person will need to wear a lead vest as protection against the x-rays.

Most people are able to go home as soon as their scan is over.