Computed Tomography (CT)

What is a CT Scan Exam?

Computed Axial Tomography or a CT scan as it is commonly referred to, is a diagnostic medical procedure that uses radiation to produce images of bones, organs and vessels inside the body. It can also be used to do procedures for tissue biopsies of the cells from an organ.

A computer analyzes the images and creates a series of pictures that is seen on the television monitor on the CT Scanner work desk.  The images do not look like the regular x-rays which you may be used to seeing.  CT images are taken from a cross-sectional viewpoint which would be like a slice of bread from a whole loaf.  This method allows us to re-create a 3-D image of the various organs and structures being studied, rather than a typical 2 dimensional picture.

How do I prepare?

Dress casually and in loose clothing when you come for a CT Scan procedure, as more than likely you will have to change into a gown. Dressing in a casual manner allows ease in changing. You may not have to take off all of your clothing but the technologist will let you know exactly which items need to be removed for the procedure. You may also be asked to remove any jewellery such as watches, necklaces, earrings and body piercings which would interfere with acquiring the image

It is essential that the preparation for the particular procedure is followed in order to prevent rescheduling and unnecessary delays in the continuum of care. Many of the procedures require no preparation, but please review the exact information for the site where you are having your CT Scan procedure performed and for that specific examination in the attached link or talk to your doctor.

What is involved?

After checking in, you will be asked to change into a gown in the CT Scan area, the technologist (this is the non-physician professional who will be performing the procedure) will have you lay on the CT scanner table.  The table is in front of a large machine with a hole in the centre.  This is called the gantry and it holds the x-ray tube which will create the images from the scan.  The table will move into the gantry during the exposure sequence.  The gantry is not enclosed like a tunnel, but if you are claustrophobic, you may want to tell the technologist. 

You may require an IV to be put in so that the technologist can administer some contrast media – or x-ray dye – to help visualize certain organs and tissues.   Depending on the type of body examined, the contrast media helps to highlight the areas of interest 

During the scan, the technologist or a pre-programmed computerized voice may ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds at certain intervals.  It is very important to follow all the instructions as given so that the scan does not need to be repeated.  The scan will last a few seconds up to a couple minutes depending on the study requested.

How long will it take?

The length of the procedure will depend on the body part being examined and may vary slightly at the different sites in Winnipeg.  This information is outlined more specifically in the attached link.

How do I get my results?

Your results will be read by a Radiologist, who is the physician professionally trained in CT Anatomy. The report is then sent to the physician who ordered the procedure.

Are there any risks?

Studies have shown that there are risks associated with exposure to radiation.  The medical professionals who are in charge of your care are aware of these risks and make every effort to order only what is absolutely necessary to diagnose and/or treat your health concerns.


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