beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

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Torso CT

A Torso CT scan is a diagnostic test that combines x-rays with computer technology to produce "cross-sectional" pictures of the body. This exam shows the venous system, organs, bones, and tissues in great detail.

Preparation for Your Exam

Please do not eat solid foods for at least three hours before your test. You may, however drink clear liquids during this time as well as take your usual medications.

You are scheduled to arrive one hour before your scan to allow time for preparation. Upon arriving you will be asked to drink 900-1400 ml (4-6 cups) of barium sulfate. This barium drink enhances the quality of your CT scan by making structures in your body easier to distinguish.

For your exam, you may also be required to receive IV contrast (dye). This contrast is injected through your veins and will further enhance structures in your body on the CT images.

It is important that you inform the technologist before your exam if:

  • You have had IV contrast before
  • You have asthma
  • You are allergic to any foods or medications
  • You may be pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You are diabetic and taking Glucophage (metformin)

What happens in the CT room?

You will be asked to lie on an x-ray table once you enter the CT room. This table will move in and out of the CT scanner (a large donut-shaped machine that is open on both ends) while acquiring images of your body. You will be required to lie very still during the scan and may also be asked to follow some specific breathing instructions.

How long will it take?

This is different for everyone, however, on average, it should take 15-30 minutes from the time you enter the room.

After The Exam

You may resume your normal daily routine after your exam. If you were given IV contrast for your exam, be sure to increase your fluid intake to help clear the material from your system.

Getting Your Results

The exam images will first be viewed by a radiologist, a physician specializing in analyzing these exams. Our radiologists will review the results of your CT scan with your doctor who will then explain them to you. Your doctor should have access to your exam results within 24 hours.