Westfield Imaging Center - Summit Radiological Associates, P.A. Enhancing the Health of Our Patients
CT Frequently Asked Questions

What is CT?
Computed Tomography (CT) is a diagnostic procedure that combines X-rays with computer technology to create accurate, detailed diagnostic images. CT testing is non-invasive, painless, and relatively fast.

What can I expect?
When you arrive at Westfield Imaging Center, our front desk staff will register you and help you with your paperwork. You will be called for your CT scan by the technologist as you relax in our waiting room. The technologist will bring you into the exam room and show you where to leave your belongings. The technologist will ask you to lie down on a cushioned table. During the scan, it is extremely important that you remain still and quiet. The scan itself is painless. Since the scanner is open, you will be able to communicate with the technologist at all times.

What is the difference between MRI and CT?
MRI uses a powerful magnetic field for imaging; a CT scanner uses x-rays. While both are excellent imaging modalities, they each image certain areas of the body better than the other. For example, MRI is better for imaging the spine and joints; whereas CT is better for imaging the lungs. In many parts of the body, MRI and CT studies compliment each other. For example, it is not unusual for a CT of the liver to show an abnormality and a MRI to further characterize it. Your doctor will order the appropriate scan depending upon which part of your body will be examined. Our Board Certified Radiologists are always available to consult with your doctor if needed.

How do I prepare for a CT?
When scheduling your CT scan, please inform the office if you are diabetic or have a history of asthma or allergies. If you are pregnant, please inform our staff. Please refer to the CT prep section on this web site.

Why do I need an IV contrast injection?
A contrast material is commonly injected into a vein to better define the blood vessels and to help differentiate between normal and abnormal tissue. The contrast will be excreted by your kidneys within 24 hours of the scan.

Will I be allergic to the IV contrast?
A small percentage of patients will have an allergic reaction to the IV contrast. Patients should alert their doctors if they have had an allergic reaction to contrast in the past.

Following the injection of contrast, some patients report feeling flushed and occasionally develop a metallic taste. These sensations usually disappear within a minute or two. Some patients may experience a mild itching sensation. If this itchiness persists or is accompanied with hives, it can be treated easily with medication. Rarely, a patient may develop shortness of breath or experience swelling in the throat. These symptoms are indications of an allergic reaction to the contrast material that must be treated promptly. At Westfield Imaging Center, we use the safest available contrast agents for our examinations.

Why am I given oral contrast to drink?
You may be asked to drink contrast material, a liquid that allows the radiologist to better visualize the stomach, small bowel, and colon. Some patients find the taste of the contrast material mildly unpleasant but most tolerate it well. It is recommended that the contrast be refrigerated for a better taste.

There is no toxic effect from drinking oral contrast. It is not absorbed by your body.

How long will I be in the CT scanner?
The length of the exam varies with the type of study. The average is between fifteen and twenty minutes.

The Siemens SOMATOM Emotion 6 CT scanner at Westfield Imaging Center is a multi-detector spiral CT scanner which reduces scan time. For our patients, this translates into speed and diagnostic detail.

What is my radiation exposure?
Radiation exposure is minimized with our advanced CT. The radiation dose varies with the part of the body being imaged. Every effort is made to limit the amount of radiation exposure a patient receives.

When will I know the results?
Once your CT is completed, a Board Certified radiologist at Westfield Imaging Center will review the scans. The radiologist will interpret the CT and provide your doctor with a written report within 24 to 48 hours. Emergency or STAT reports are called to your doctor following completion of your examination.

If you have any additional questions, please call us or your doctor.