CT Scan: How to Prepare Before, During, and After


Computed tomography (CT) scan is an imaging procedure that diagnoses signs of diseases and complications in the body.

With X-rays that capture detailed images of your soft tissues, organs, and bones, this painless method helps your physician understand your condition and find treatment solutions. 

If you are scheduled for a CT scan, check these guidelines to prepare you for the procedure.

Two types of CT scans

Depending on your condition, your doctor will advise what type of CT scan you will undergo. 

CT scan without contrast

A non-contrasted CT scan is a procedure that does not require oral ingestion or IV injection of an agent.

This CT scan can produce 3D images for diagnosing brain trauma, bleeding, facial bone trauma, renal stone, and hematuria. 

CT scan with contrast

CT scan often involves using a contrast agent called dye to improve the images captured from the scanning machine.

It helps doctors and radiologists distinguish normal conditions from abnormal ones by highlighting certain features in your tissues and bones.

You either drink the dye mixed into a special liquid or through an IV injection. The dye is released from your system by urinating. It should ultimately be gone in the next 24 hours after drinking.

This CT scan is often used to visualize the vasculature system and internal organs in the abdomen and pelvis.

CT scan vs. CAT

CAT stands for computed axial tomography. This procedure is the same as a CT scan

How do I prepare for a CT scan?

As you discover the procedure type for you, it’s time to prepare yourself for your appointment to avoid delays or reschedules. Coming prepared allows for a seamless procedure and quicker diagnosis. 

Preparing for Your Ct Scan Exam

Take these health measures before going to the diagnostic center. 

  • Do not eat solid food. Your doctor will advise you not to eat solid food four hours before the procedure. You can only drink liquids like water, juice, and tea. For CT scans with contrast, your healthcare provider will require you to drink a liquid called dye for more precise abdominal area imaging.
  • Take medications as usual. CT scans will not require you to cease taking prescribed medicines unless your doctor advises.Make sure to provide your doctor with all the medical information he must know to ensure the most appropriate steps for your diagnosis and treatment.
  • Advise for medical conditions. Let your radiologist know about your medical conditions, such as allergies, or if you have metal implants and medical devices. You should also inform the staff if you are pregnant. 

Arrival Time

Arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment to give time for the registration process and briefing. 

Before Your Ct Scan Exam

Before starting the examination, the health attendant may ask you questions about your medical information.

You must change into a laboratory gown given to you by the staff and remove accessories such as belts and earrings. 

During Your Ct Scan Exam

You will lie on a platform as your healthcare provider pushes you through a machine with a large tube or ring.

Expect that your CT scan will last for about 15 minutes. However, a CT scan with contrast may take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

After Your CT Scan Exam 

As soon as your CT scan is complete, the radiologist will pull the table where you are lying away from the tube. You can now receive advice to change into your personal clothes. 

The result of your CT scan will not be given in real-time. Your radiologist will have to study the images, evaluate the information shown, and share it with your physician.  

What happens during a CT scan?

The CT scan requires you to lie on your back on a table which will be inserted into a tube-like machine. If you have a CT scan with contrast, you may need to get injected before the procedure.

For about 15 minutes or more, the device will capture images from the target body part. During this period, you must remain as still as possible to prevent blurriness in capturing images. 

What does a CT scan show?

When you undergo a CT scan, the results will show warning signs of diseases through clear and detailed imaging of your tissues, bones, and internal organs.

These are vital in diagnosing, preventing, and treating medical complications. 

Certain types of cancer

The procedure can show signs of kidney, ovarian, colorectal, stomach, and bladder cancer

Fractures (broken bones)

CT scan can evaluate the condition of bones, soft tissues, lesions, and abnormalities that X-rays can’t detect. 

Heart disease

Plaque build-up along the arteries can show signs of heart disease. 

Blood clots. Imaging can provide detailed information about clogged arteries. 

Bowel disorders

CT scan can detect complications in internal organs such as the small bowel and colon.

Brain and spinal cord diseases or injuries

CT scan’s x-ray beams can confirm conditions in the brain’s tissue and structures and complications in the spinal cord. 

Internal bleeding

The procedure can detect suspected internal bleeding and tumors in different body parts caused by existing medical conditions and trauma. 

How much does a CT scan cost?

The cost of CT scans varies depending on your medical condition, the type of imaging procedure, as well as the body part in focus. 

One Step Diagnostics provides premium diagnostic services across Texas, including CT scan services. To know more about the pricing for CT scans, call us today for an estimate. 

How long does it take to get the results of a CT scan?

The results of your examination are available within 24 hours for outpatient services. If you are currently confined in the hospital or in an emergency, your scan results will be ready within an hour. 

Are CT scans safe?

Since it is a standard diagnostic procedure, CT scans are non-invasive, painless, and generally safe for everyone. 

Are CT scans safe for women who are pregnant?

Pregnant women can undergo CT scans. Before the procedure, they must tell their doctor and the CT technician of their pregnancy.

You may not be allowed to take a CT scan if the scan is on your pelvis or abdomen area due to the effects the radiation can cause on the fetus. 

Are CT scans safe for children?

CT scans are safe for children, provided the machine’s radiation level is reduced to adjust to their age level. 

Are CT scans safe for people with kidney disease or kidney failure?

People with chronic kidney disease or kidney failure can only undergo CT scans without contrast. CT scans with a contrast agent can cause contrast-induced nephropathy.

Premium CT scan services in Texas

One Step Diagnostic is your best diagnostic facility for all your diagnostic imaging and pain management requirements.

Since 2016, we have provided accurate and reliable CT scan procedures for our customers—we help you and your healthcare providers have a proper reference for treating and managing diseases. 

We consist of a team of board-certified medical professionals who are experts in conducting diagnostic services for people within key locations in Texas. 

Book a CT scan schedule with us or contact us to learn more about our services. 


One Step Diagnostic has been Texas’s leading American College of Radiology (ACR) accredited radiology center since 2006. We employ board-certified radiologists to offer advanced imaging tests, including digital X-rays, MRI, CT, DEXA scans, ultrasounds, mammograms, and pain management services.


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