Monday, November 28, 2011

5 Things I Wish I Knew about CT Scans

So, I had my CT/CAT Scan today. Everything went fine and I'll get the results on Friday when I meet with my new doctor - Dr. R - again.

But I learned a few new things that I figure might be helpful for anyone else out there who has never had a CT Scan. I had one two weeks ago when I went to the ER, but I was so out of it on pain and morphine that I don't honestly remember much. So, this list is also to help me remember what to prepare for next time!

1. Arrive early - but bring a book.

I definitely wouldn't want to worry about rushing through the drinking barium, so I recommend getting there a little early. (Which if you are me, means you will get there right on time!) But bring a book, because you have to wait at least 45-60 minutes between the time you drink the contrast and when they actually do the scan.

2. Wear leggings!

Or some other kind of pants without buttons or any other metal. This will save you from having to go bottomless when they make you change into a hospital gown. I actually did this today, but there was a nice woman who obviously was experienced in getting CTs who expressed surprise that they'd never told her that she'd be able to keep them on!

3. Bring a friend

It seems like a boring appointment to drag someone else along - just a lot of sitting and waiting for a short procedure. But at least in the beginning, its nice to have someone to make the waiting go by faster. Especially if you are still feeling like this whole process is surreal - I know I still do. So, thanks Laurie for volunteering - I really appreciate it!

4. Bring juice

I had my choice of Barium flavors - apple, banana, vanilla, and at least two others. But there is some kind of pre-contrast stuff that they usually mix with water and make you drink first. It is AWFUL - I made Laurie smell it just so that she could confirm its disgustingness. The nurse told me that they will mix it with apple or grape juice if I bring some next time. Noted!

5. Be prepared for the heat

Once they get you on the table in the scanning room, they hook you into an IV. Then after a few initial scans, they push another kind of contrast agent. As soon as they do this, your whole body will flush very warm. Warning - it will absolutely feel like you just peed your pants! I don't remember that part at all during my emergency CT - but this time I was quite surprised! So, be prepared!

Overall, a CT is really a non-event - which is good because I see a lot of them in my future! Thanks again everyone for your thoughts and prayers today. I will update again after my doctor appointment this Friday!


  1. I have had plenty of CT scans since MRI's are out due to the metal in my spine, and I only remember some of these things... I don't think I could have acurately prepared you for this trip fromm my memory! Glad it is over and we are all the wiser!! Love you!

  2. adding - a CAT scan is no problem for people who are NOT claustrophobic. Some folk find it quite confining. I've never been too bothered by it but other will have a panic attack before going into that "tunnel".


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