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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Tests and Exams > Abdominal CT Scan

Abdominal CT Scan

Alternate Names : Abdominal Computed Tomography, CAT Scan of the Abdomen

Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Results and Values

Computed tomography, also called CT, is a computer-aided X-ray technique. An abdominal CT scan produces detailed cross-sectional views of sections of the abdomen. This could be thought of as similar to taking pictures of slices of bread to see the different parts of the loaf.

Who is a candidate for the test?

An abdominal CT scan is recommended for people who have suspected diseases or conditions of the abdomen. A doctor may advise a person to have this test if he or she has one of the following conditions:

  • abdominal pain for unknown reasons
  • abdominal trauma
  • abnormal findings on X-ray, ultrasound, or other studies of the abdomen
  • suspected abdominal cancer
  • suspected liver, kidney, gallbladder, or bowel disease
  • undiagnosed fevers, to make sure an abscess, or pocket of pus, is not present
  • How is the test performed?

    A person having a CT scan will need to undress and put on an exam gown. Next, he or she will lie on a narrow table. The table will slide through a machine that looks like a doughnut. This is called the gantry. While the person is in the gantry, an X-ray tube takes pictures of different parts of the person's abdomen to create computer-generated X-ray images.

    Some types of CT exams require the person to receive an iodinated dye, which makes some tissues show up better. The dye, also called contrast solution, may be injected into the person's vein or may be given as a drink. Each X-ray emits a very low dose of radiation and takes only seconds. The whole test lasts about 45 minutes.

    After the exam, a technician will view the pictures to make sure they can be seen clearly. If they are OK, the person can usually get dressed and is free to leave.


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    Abdominal CT Scan: Preparation & Expectations

    Author: James Compton, MD
    Reviewer: Carlos Herrera, MD
    Date Reviewed: 08/20/01

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