Where do I register?
You may call 706/774-2125 to pre-register if you prefer. Please report to Central Registration in The Outpatient Center at your scheduled check-in time.
Where do I park?
Please park in the Outpatient Parking Lot off the main circle to the front entrance of the hospital. Inform the attendant at the gate when you enter the Outpatient Parking Lot if you need shuttle service. If you need wheelchair assistance, please park in the main hospital parking deck.
What is the test?
A computed tomography (CT) scan is a method of body imaging in which a thin x-ray beam rotates around the patient. Small detectors measure the amount of x-rays that make it through the patient or particular area of interest.
A computer analyzes the data to construct a cross-sectional image. These images can be stored, viewed on a monitor, or printed on film. In addition, three-dimensional models of organs can be created by stacking the individual images, or "slices."
You may be asked to drink contrast immediately prior to the CT scan, or 4 to 6 hours beforehand. The contrast may be non-reactive, chalky-tasting barium sulfate, which will eventually pass in the stools, or absorbable clear Gastrografin solution. You may also be asked to fast (no solids or liquids) for 4 to 6 hours if contrast dye is to be used.
The CT scanner has a weight limit to prevent damage to its internal mechanisms. Have the health care provider contact the scanner operator if you weigh more than 300 pounds.
Since x-rays have difficulty passing through metal, the patient will be asked to remove jewelry and wear a hospital gown during the study.
CT scans and other x-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. CT scans provide low levels of ionizing radiation which has the potential to cause cancer and heritable defects. The risk associated with any individual scan is small; however, the risk increases as numerous additional studies are performed.
During pregnancy, an abdominal CT scan is usually not recommended, due to risk to the exposed fetus, including developmental malformations and childhood cancers. Patients who are or may be pregnant should speak with their health care provider in order to first take a pregnancy test or choose an appropriate alternative imaging modality without risk to the fetus, such as ultrasound.
The most common intravenous contrast dye is iodine based. A person who is allergic to iodine (such as those with seafood allergies) may experience nausea, sneezing, vomiting, itching, or hives. If contrast administration is essential for a patient with any of the prior reactions, the health care provider may choose to pre-medicate the patient before the scan with a short course of immune-suppressing steroids and/or Benadryl. Alternatively, other contrast media or other imaging modalities (such as ultrasound or MR) may be used.
Rarely, the dye may cause anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic response), usually manifested by swelling in the airway. The patient is instructed prior to the scan to notify the technologist via the intercom if he/she has difficulty breathing. If such a rare reaction does take place, the exam will be stopped, and the patient will be rapidly treated with special medication and closely monitored by a physician.
Iodine-based contrast is primarily filtered out of the bloodstream by the kidneys, and thus patients with diabetes or renal disease will require continuous hydration and close monitoring of kidney function. Diabetics on certain a glucose-lowering medication (glucophage/metformin) and renal dialysis patients should speak with their physician regarding stopping the medication, and the proper scheduling of the scan in conjunction with dialysis, respectively. Consent from the patient or designated guardian must be obtained prior to the use of intravenous contrast.
For additional information or if you are unable to keep an appointment, please call 706/774-3173.
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