Below is educational information for patients having a CAT/CT Scan.

What is a CAT Scan?

A CAT/CT scan or computed tomography scan combines a series of X-ray images to provide a more in-depth image of bone, blood vessels, and soft tissues. It can be used to visualize the brain, chest, spine, and abdomen.

What is a CAT Scan used for?

A CAT scan can be used to:

  • Diagnose muscle/bone disorders
    (e.g. fractures or tumors)
  • Help guide procedures such as surgeries
    and biopsies
  • Detect internal injuries or bleeding
  • Detect a blood clot
  • Detect damaged blood vessels

What should you expect?

You will be asked to lie on a narrow table that slides into the scanner (shaped like a large donut hole). Your provider may place straps on you to help you stay in position. The table will move you into the scanner and you may hear different noises (e.g. buzzing or clicking). The radiology technologist will be in the next room and can hear you. They may ask you to hold your breath at certain times during the scan.

What is contrast dye?

Your CAT scan may be ordered with or without contrast dye. The use of contrast dye will allow certain areas to show up better on the scan. Depending on what your physician is looking for, you may be given intravenous (IV) or oral contrast dye. If ordered with IV contrast, a radiology technologist will inject your IV with a dye just prior to the CAT scan. If ordered with oral contrast you will be given the contrast to drink and the doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything for 4–6 hours prior to the CAT scan.

Before receiving contrast:

  • Tell your provider if you are taking the diabetic medication Metformin (Glucophage) because you will need to stop it for 48 hours after having contrast dye.
  • Notify your provider if you have an allergy to contrast dye or iodine.

Download the CAT Scan brochure.