Cat Scan

CT Scan Services

Types of CT Scans

  • Abdomen & Pelvis
  • Arthrograms (Knee, Hip, Shoulder)
  • Biopsies
  • Cardiac CT Angiography (CCTA)
  • Chest
  • Complete Run-Off Studies
  • Drainages
  • Extremity
  • Face, Sinus & Orbits
  • Head & Brain
  • Kidney, Liver & Lung
  • Neck & Spine
  • Oncology Workups
  • Pulmonary Embolism
  • Spinal and Other Injuries
  • Steroid Injections (Hip, Shoulder)
  • Virtual Colonoscopy

The Basics of a CT Scan

A computerized axial tomography (CAT or CT) scan combines the use of X-rays and highly sophisticated computer software programs to produce thousands of cross-sectional images of the body called “slices” in just a few seconds. Powerful computers attached to the scanner allow radiology technologists to re-assemble these slices into a variety of 2D and 3D pictures called “views” which our radiologists use to diagnose your medical condition. The radiologists’ written interpretation of your exam, and in many cases the images themselves, are shared with your doctor who uses the information as a critical tool in planning or monitoring your course of treatment.

CT Scan Patient Preparation

Included below are some basic preparation instructions for CT exams but you should feel free to speak with your doctor or our staff to make sure you understand how to prepare for your exam:

Abdomen and Pelvis

  • Please do not eat for 3 hours prior to appointment.
  • You may drink fluids (water, juice, coffee).
  • You may take all medications. Please arrive one hour prior to your scheduled exam time.
  • You will be given 24 to 36 ounces of oral contrast to drink. Your scan will be done approximately 45 to 60 minutes after you finish drinking to allow for complete filling of your intestines and optimal visualization of your scan.

Exception: The only exception to this is a history of kidney stones. These patients do not have to drink oral contrast and may arrive just prior to their scheduled appointment time.

Exams with Intravenous Contrast

  • Please do not eat for 3 hours prior to appointment.
  • You may drink fluids (water, juice, coffee).
  • You may take all medications.
  • Please arrive just prior to scheduled appointment time.

Exams Not Requiring Contrast

  • No preparation is required.
  • Please arrive just prior to scheduled appointment time.

Cardiac CT Angiography (CCTA)

For your exam, please also bring a copy of your insurance card and any information from a similar or related exam performed in another location (e.g., films, CDs, reports). If you have questions about exactly what type of exam your doctor has ordered or any aspect of the preparation, please feel free to call our office at 603-890-2800.

What Can I Expect from a CT Scan?


When you arrive at Salem Radiology, you may check in with one of our receptionists who will ask for some basic information (for example, your insurance card and copies of any previous studies). The receptionist will inform the CT staff that you have arrived. Following check-in, you (and any friends or family members) will be escorted to a private reception area where you will be met by a radiology technologist. The technologist, in addition to being the person who actually performs the exam, is responsible for guiding you and ensuring your comfort throughout the entire process. The technologist will explain the exam, and answer any questions and address any concerns you may have.

CT Exam Preparations

The technologist will also assist you in getting ready for the exam itself. The specific preparations required vary depending on the type of exam being performed. Many patients receiving a CT of the abdomen or pelvis, for example, will be required to consume a milkshake-like (or in some cases a lemonade-like) oral contrast approximately 60 minutes prior to having the exam performed. The contrast helps ensure the highest image quality for these types of exams. Most exams, however, will involve only a brief discussion with the technologist prior to the exam.

As always, please bring copies of any prior exams or related studies from other locations (images and reports) as these play a critical role in the overall success of your exam. And, please remember to bring a copy of your insurance card with you.

CT Scan Contrast

Approximately 60% of CT exams do require the use of contrast in order to ensure the maximum resolution and accuracy of the CT images. While some exams require the use of an oral contrast – as described above – others require intravenous (IV) contrast. IV contrast will be administered once the patient is positioned on the exam table (see more below). For those exams requiring intravenous contrast, patients will experience a “pin-prick” similar to what one experiences when having blood drawn. Other than this, patients should expect their exams to be painless, fast and comfortable.

Blood Tests

Some patients receiving IV contrast may need a simple blood test to ensure their kidneys are working well since the kidneys eliminate the contrast from the body. Salem Radiology uses the highest quality contrast available which further minimizes the chance of any undesired reaction to the contrast.

The Exam

Once you have completed any last minute preparations, the technologist will escort you into the CT Scan room located right next to the reception area. The technologist will assist you in getting comfortable on the exam table and make sure that your body is correctly positioned for the exam. For those patients requiring it, an IV contrast injection will be administered at this time. For the exam itself, which in most cases lasts just a few minutes, the technologist will exit the room into the Scanner Control room which is located right on the other side of a large glass window. The technologist will inform you through a speaker when the exam is about to begin — you may be asked to hold your breath briefly during a portion of the exam. At no time will the CT scanner itself touch you during the exam.

Once the exam is complete, the technologist will escort you back to the private reception area and provide you with any necessary instructions prior to your departure. Most patients will simply be able to gather their belongings and leave immediately following the exam. The technologists will recommend to those patients receiving contrast that they consume plenty of water and other non-caffeinated liquids to help flush the contrast from their body.

Length of a CT Scan Exam

Our 64-Slice scanner is so fast that most scans are completed in a matter of just a few seconds. Given the time it takes most patients to get changed and situated on the CT table, most non-contrast exams are completed in 10 minutes or so. Abdomen and pelvic exams with contrast take a little longer in total (30 minutes) because patients are required to sit and rest between the “without contrast” and the “with contrast” portions of the exam. Of course, exam times may take a bit longer for those patients requiring more assistance getting situated on the exam table.

Obtaining the Results from a CT Scan

Patients should consult with their doctor to obtain the results of their exam.