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Computed Axial Tomography


A computed axial tomography (tuh-mah-gruh-fee) scan is also called a "CT" or "CAT" scan. It is a painless test that takes pictures of the inside of the body. CT scans are especially good for showing bone, soft tissue, and blood vessels. These pictures are taken in slices. Each picture or "slice" shows only a few layers of body tissue at a time. By taking pictures like this, caregivers can more easily find and see problems in the body. This test usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes. Newer CT machines can do a test in only a few minutes.


  • Keep a written list of what medicines you take and when and why you take them. Bring the list of your medicines or the pill bottles when you see your caregivers. Ask your caregiver for information about your medicines. Do not take any medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements without first talking to caregivers. Your caregivers can find out if these medicines interact with other medicines you are taking.
  • Always take your medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your caregiver if you think your medicines are not helping or if you feel you are having side effects. Do not quit taking it until you discuss it with your caregiver. If you are taking antibiotics (an-ti-bi-ah-tiks), take them until they are all gone even if you feel better.
  • If you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy, do not drive or use heavy equipment.


Ask your caregiver when to return for a follow-up visit.

Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit.

Drink 6 to 8 (soda pop can size) glasses of liquid each day. Or, follow your caregiver's advice if you must limit the amount of liquid you drink. Good liquids to drink are water and mild juices. Limit the amount of caffeine you drink, such as coffee, tea, and soda. Drinking plenty of liquids helps flush any x-ray dye used during the CT scan out of your body.


You may drive immediately if you were not given sedative (seh-duh-tiv) medicine to make you relax during the test. Someone must drive you home if you were given sedative medicine.

Exercise makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and keeps you healthy. Ask your caregiver to help you plan your exercise program. Start exercising when your caregiver says it is OK. It is best to start slowly and do more as you get stronger.


  • You have any questions or concerns about your injury, illness, medicine, or the CT scan.


  • You have trouble breathing. This is an emergency. Call 911 or 0 (operator) for an ambulance to get to the nearest hospital or clinic. Do not drive yourself!

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.