University College Hospital. Having a CT scan. Imaging Department

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1 University College Hospital Having a CT scan Imaging Department

2 If you need a large print, audio, or a translated copy of this document, please contact us on: We will do our best to meet your needs. 2

3 Contents 1. Introduction 4 2. What is a CT scan? 4 3. How can a CT help? 4 4. What are the risks of having a CT? 4 5. What will happen if I choose not to have CT scan? 5 6. What alternatives are available? 5 7. How should I prepare for a CT scan? 5 8. Asking for consent 6 9. What happens during a CT scan? scan? Who will perform the CT scan? What should I expect after the CT scan? How will I get my results? Where can I get more information? Contact details How to find us 9 3

4 1 Introduction This booklet contains information for patients having a CT scan. It explains what is involved and what the possible risks are. It is not meant to replace informed discussion between you and your doctor, but can act as a starting point for such discussions. 2 What is a CT scan? A CT scan is an imaging investigation using X-rays. It is a performed on a specialised scanner which gives very detailed cross sectional images of the body. This helps us to look at your body more accurately than is possible using ordinary X-rays. The scanner consists of a doughnut-shaped structure, or gantry, about two feet thick with a hole in its centre, through which you pass while lying on a couch. There is a picture on page 2 of the scanner to show you what it looks like. 3 How can a CT help? The CT scan enables diagnosis and follow up of many disorders, diseases and injuries affecting the body's tissues and internal organs. Your doctor will have explained to you why you need to have a CT scan. 4 What are the risks of having a CT? All treatments and procedures have risks and we will talk to you about the risks of having a CT scan. Like any X-ray examination, this test uses radiation but we will keep the radiation dose for your examination as low as we possibly can. Many CT examinations involve having a contrast media (X-ray dye) 4

5 injected. There is a small risk of a reaction to the contrast but before we proceed we ask you a number of safety questions in order to identify whether you are at risk of an adverse event occurring. 5 What will happen if I choose not to have CT? The doctor that has referred you for the CT scan will discuss with you any alternative tests that are available. 6 What alternatives are available? Other scans available include MRI or ultrasound, but these may be not suitable depending on the area of the body to be scanned. Some patients are unable to have MRI scans if they have pacemakers, or some other types of metallic or electronic implants. For your visit today, the doctors have decided the CT is the most suitable scan and will give them the most useful information for diagnosis and treatment 7 How should I prepare for a CT? You will be sent specific preparation instructions with your appointment letter which will relate to the area of the body to be scanned. For some scans patients are asked not to eat anything for a few hours before the scan. This is because an injection of contrast media (X-ray dye) will be given during the scan. Unless you have been told otherwise, you may eat and drink normally before the scan. If you take any medication, please continue to take this as normal. 5

6 If you are diabetic, it is advisable to bring some food with you to have after the scan. You do not need to stop taking any of your medication either before or after the scan. 8 Asking for your consent We want to involve you in all the decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to go ahead with the CT scan, by law we must ask you to consent to the test. This confirms that you agree to have the procedure and understand what it involves. The doctor that refers you for the CT scan will explain the risks, benefits and any alternative tests. If you are unsure about any aspect of your CT scan, please do not hesitate to speak to either your doctor, or the radiographer who will carry out the CT scan. 9 What happens during a CT? Depending on the area of your body being scanned, it may be necessary for you to drink some fluid prior to your scan. This will be either water or a white liquid called barium. The staff will bring this to you and explain how and when to drink the liquid. For some scans you may be asked to change into a gown, depending on the area of the body to be scanned. This will require you to undress down to your underwear, and put on the gown. Necklaces/chains will need to be removed, as will any bras with wires. You may bring your own gown if you wish, as long as the garment has no metallic zips, buttons or hooks. You may also need an injection of contrast for the scan. This is a special X-ray dye which shows up the blood vessels and organs on the scan. If required for the scan, one of the members of staff will insert a cannula in your arm prior to the scan, and ask you 6

7 some questions regarding allergies and other relevant medical history. You will lay on a bed and the scan involves passing through the scanner several times. You may be asked to breathe in and hold your breath. The breath holds are not long, often only for a few seconds at a time. If needed, the contrast will be connected to your cannula and injected during the course of the scan. This can make you feel warm, give a metallic taste in the mouth and may give a sensation like you are going to the toilet. These are only sensations, and won t last very long. The CT scan usually takes around 10 minutes with you in the room. 10 Who will perform the CT scan? Your scan will be performed by radiographers, who will be assisted by Radiographic Department Assistants. 11 What should I expect after a CT? One of our CT staff will get you off the bed, and you can leave straight away. If you had an injection of contrast media for the scan, the cannula will be removed from your arm before you leave. There will be no lasting effects you will feel from the contrast. 12 How will I get my results? Your scan will be reported by a radiologist (doctor specialising in reading X-ray images) and the report will be sent back to the doctor who referred you for the scan for your next outpatient appointment. They will not usually be sent back to your own GP. 7

8 13 Where can I get more information? There are a variety of websites on the internet with information for patients having a CT scan. These include : HPAweb_C/ UCL Hospitals cannot accept responsibility for information provided by other organisations. 14 Contact details UCH Switchboard or Imaging Booking Centre (to change or cancel an appointment) Hospital Transport Services Website: 8

9 15 How to find us The CT scan department is based in the lower ground of the Macmillan Cancer Centre on Huntley Street. Although it is based there, all of our outpatients are scanned on this machine regardless of their condition. 9

10 10

11 Space for notes and questions 11

12 Publication date: Nov 2013 Date last reviewed: Nov 2013 Date next review due: Nov 2015 Leaflet code: UCLH/S&C/IMG/CT-SCAN/1 University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 12

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