CT Scans without Contrast

What is a CT scan?

A CT scan is an examination of any part of your body using a Computed Tomography scanner (CT scanner), which provides accurate pictures of the structures inside your body using x-rays. The scan taken builds up many images of the body, rather like the slices of a loaf of bread. It helps the doctor investigate your symptoms.

How do I get ready for a CT scan without contrast?

No, prior to your appointment you can eat, drink and take medication normally. You may be asked to change into a gown which will be provided. You will also be asked to move any metal items like jewellery from the area being scanned
Occasionally an injection of contrast (X-ray dye) may need to be given. This helps make certain parts of the picture clearer by highlighting internal structures on the images.

Are there any risks?

This is a safe examination, however, as with all medical procedures there is some associated risk:
  • There is a small risk from the exposure to radiation as with any X-ray examination
  • There is a small risk of having an allergic reaction to the contrast (X-ray dye) if given in some people.

Please talk to your doctor or radiographer if you have any concerns about the risks. You can also access more information about radiation doses on the gov.uk site by clicking here
Please telephone the CT department on 020 7288 5888 and ask to speak to a CT radiographer if:
  • You are allergic to iodine based IV contrast (or have had an allergic reaction in the past during an X-ray procedure)
  • You are pregnant

What happens during a CT scan without contrast?

The radiographer (who operates the scanner) will take you into the scanning room where you will lie on a scan couch. This moves slowly through the scanner, which is shaped like a large ring. You can talk to the radiographer via a microphone and they can talk back to you and see you throughout. It is very important to lie still throughout your scan so that the pictures are not blurred.
You may be asked to hold your breath for approximately 5-10 seconds whilst pictures are taken. A CT scan is not a painful examination. The scan will take around 10 minutes in the scan room but you can expect to be in the department for up to 30 minutes.

What happens after a CT scan without contrast?

The scan is reported by a radiologist and the report will be sent to the doctor in clinic who requested the scan. The report will only go to your GP if they directly requested the scan. Typically you will receive the results of the scan the next time you visit the doctor looking after you. Your doctor will be able to discuss what future tests or treatment you may need.

Is there anything else I should know?

Remember to remain still during your scan and follow all breathing instructions given. Movement will distort the pictures.
You will be able to carry on with your regular activities after the scan and continue to eat and drink normally.
Page last updated: 17 Feb 2021
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