This is my take on a CT Scan. What happens to me. My experiences.
On 11th April, exactly one year since my original bowel surgery, I was due to meet with my Surgeon for our yearly check up. I couldn’t believe it. One whole year. Anyway, a week before our meeting he had arranged for me to have my yearly surveillance CT Scan. A CT scan is nothing to be afraid of, it is a painless experience, except for a few extremely common side effect to the contrast.
A CT SCAN
A CT scan (computerised tomography(CT)) is a donut shaped machine that is used to take a series of x-ray images from different angles around your body. These x-rays create cross-sectional images, or slices, of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues inside your body. It is a lot more details than a normal x-ray.
PREPARATION FOR A CT SCAN
In preparation for a CT scan, they like you to have a fairly empty stomach. As such, you need to stop eating 3 hours prior to your scan. Its all good though, you are allowed water. You have to drink a lot of water. One litre in the hour prior to your scan…..but, unlike an ultrasound, you are allowed to pee. Oh, the first time I had this I didn’t read the instructions properly and thought I couldn’t pee. It was painful. But, second time round I knew better. The reason for a lot of water is to help flush the contrast out quicker after the procedure.
As a CT scanner is magnetic, no metal is allowed. I’ve been allowed to leave rings on, as most times my hands have been above my head on the scanner, but other than that, everything has to be removed. And, you get to wear one of the awesome, really sexy, hospital gowns that just about strangle you if you are not carefull when lying down. Yep, been there, learned that mistake. Always hitch your gown up and loosen it around your neck before lying down.
THE SCAN AND CONTRAST
A CT scan is a fairly painless experience. You lie down on the bed, and move through the scanning machine. They send you though once, without contrast, then once with contrast. Probably takes about 10 minutes all up. But, the contrast is kind of strange. Anyone who has had it before will warn you.
The contrast is injected through a needle into the vein. They put the needle in place before any scanning takes place. Once ready, they release the contrast. It takes maybe 30 seconds for the tube to be empty. In that 30 seconds you will feel a range of experiences; mine go in this order:
- First I get a hot flush, normally over my upper body.
- Second I get a weird taste in the back of my mouth. It is kind of strange, metallic type taste.
- Third, you feel the contrast moving through your body.
- Forth, you feel like you are peeing your pants. No kidding. It is quite scary the first time. You are certain that you have peed your pants. It is very real. But, it is just the contrast coursing through your body.
All this takes about 30 seconds and then it is all over. Done. Get off the bed. Get changed and out.
There are no lasting side effects and the contrast works its way out of your body through the kidneys. You can go about your normal daily business.
So, in a nutshell that is a CT scan, and the process. Not scary. Not painful. Not uncomfortable. One of those things that has to be done.
Until next time…..