Abdominal CT Scan Prep
Abdominal computed tomography (CT) scans use X-ray technology to generate pictures of your abdomen, and the prep for this type of scan is critically important. These images help your physician make an accurate diagnosis. Abdominal CT scans are used to help diagnose infections, cysts, abscesses, tumors, diverticulitis, appendicitis, inflammatory bowel disease, internal bleeding, enlarged lymph nodes and more.
If your doctor has ordered an abdominal CT scan, you may have questions about the procedure and how you should prepare for it. Learn more about what you can expect.
Preparing for the Day of Your Abdominal CT Scan
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your abdominal CT scan. These include:
- Fast as directed by your doctor. For most abdominal CT scans, you will be instructed not to eat or drink anything besides water for two to four hours prior to the imaging test.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding medications. Your doctor may ask you to hold off on taking certain medications prior to your exam to get the most accurate results during the scan.
- Remove jewelry. Leave jewelry at home. Before your scan, you may also be asked to remove eyeglasses, hairpins, hearing aids, undergarments with a metal underwire and piercings.
- Take oral contrast or IV contrast. For some CT scans, you will be asked to drink a special liquid called an oral contrast between 60–90 minutes before your test. This liquid contains barium sulfate and will help your doctor get a better picture of your abdomen. Alternatively, you may receive contrast dye through an IV. Women should not breastfeed for up to 48 hours after receiving contrast.
- Talk to your doctor about your health conditions. It is important that your doctor knows about any health conditions that could make an abdominal CT scan problematic. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant, diabetic or have previously had an allergic reaction to drinking oral contrast (barium) or other dyes.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Choose casual, comfortable clothing for your appointment. You will be lying down on a table, so you may be asked to change into a hospital gown for the procedure.
During Your Abdominal CT Scan
During the procedure, you will be asked to lie down on a table in a specific position. It’s important to lie still and stay in the same position long enough for the technician to get a good image. Pillows or straps may be used to help keep you in position.
The table will then be moved into the CT machine, which has a large donut-shaped opening. The machine will use x-ray beams and electronic x-ray detectors to take several cross-sectional images of your abdomen. You may be asked to hold your breath during the scan to prevent blurred images. The scan won’t take long—usually 30 minutes or less. The technician will review the images to ensure they are clear enough to provide your doctor with the information needed.
Is it Safe?
Many adults are concerned about the safety of imaging tests, including MRI and CT scans. While CT scans expose you to a small amount of radiation, the benefits of CT scans often outweigh the potential risk. Your physician has your best interest in mind. If your provider has referred you for a CT scan, it is to help reach an accurate diagnosis. Here are five reasons your physician may order a CT scan.
AHI Makes Abdominal CT Scans Easy and Affordable
You have choices when it comes to where to have your abdominal CT scan. You can have a CT scan at a hospital or private imaging facility. Hospitals bloat overall costs of scans to accommodate for high overhead costs and uninsured patients. AHI offers the scans using the same high-quality equipment as hospitals at a cost that is usually significantly cheaper than other facilities.
Learn more about our CT scan services.