This guide provides a step-by-step description of what to expect before, during, and after your CT scan at Tinley
Park Open MRI. But please remember that it is only a guide. Some steps may vary depending on your condition and the personal preferences of your physician.

As with other important diagnostic procedures, you will be asked to sign an informed consent to undergo a CT scan. That is your opportunity to ask any questions following a description of the risks, benefits, and alternatives of the procedure. Do not hesitate to discuss your upcoming CT exam with your physician or our technician.

What is a CT scan and what does it do?

The scan produces a series of images and can detect many conditions that do not show up on conventional x-rays. Your doctor has ordered this examination to help make an accurate diagnosis of your condition. The results help determine the best course of treatment for you.

During the scan, a thin beam of x-rays is focused on a specific part of your body, such as the head, chest, liver, spleen, pancreas, adrenal glands, kidneys, or spine. The x-ray tube moves rapidly around this site, enabling multiple images to be made from different angles to create cross-sectional picture.

During some CT scans, a contrast medium (commonly called “dye”) is used to outline blood vessels or highlight organs of the body (eg, liver, kidneys) so that they can be seen more easily.

How long does it take?

Coming in and out of the examination room, a CT scan of the body can take around 7 minutes, while a scan of the head alone can take about 3-5 minutes.

What can you do to make it a success?

A CT scan is usually painless. The machine does not touch you and you do not feel the x-rays. Occasionally, some patients are administered a contrast medium. This may be given orally or by an intravenous injection. In some patients, the actual injection can be associated with a sensation of warmth, heat or flushing. These feelings are temporary and will typically resolve spontaneously.

You can help assure a successful, comfortable procedure by carefully following the instructions of your physician and our technologist. Be sure to answer carefully any questions they may ask about your general health. For example, tell us if you are pregnant, diabetic, and/or allergic to any foods or drugs. Please also let us know if you have had any contrast media in the past and if you had any side effects. Give us a complete list of any medications you may be taking now, including nonprescription medications. Also indicate if you have had or are presently being treated for an infection in any part of your body.

A few steps that you doctor may ask you to take before you come to our facility

You may need to fast for a few hours

If a contrast medium is to be used during your CT scan, your doctor will probably ask you not to eat anything for three or four hours or more before the exam. In addition, you may be asked not to drink anything for one hour before the exam.

You may need to wear a hospital gown

If you are having a body scan, you will probably be asked to undress and put on a hospital gown for the exam. You will also be asked to remove any jewelry or metallic properties such as keys so that it does not interfere with the x-ray imaging. If you are having a CT scan of your head, you may be asked to wear loose, comfortable clothing for the exam. And you will need to remove dentures, glasses, hearing aids, earrings, hairpins, and any other objects that may be in the path of the x-ray beam.

What happens during the exam?

You lie quietly on a table

You will be asked to lie on a table that is connected to the CT scanner. Then the part of your body that is to be scanned will be positioned in the middle of the large, doughnut-shaped scanner ring. This ring holds the x-ray tube and the electronic detector that sends information to the computer.

The technologist may take preliminary scans

If a contrast medium is to be used during your exam, our technologist will take some preliminary scans before the radiologist injects the material. Our technologist may administer a contrast medium If a contrast medium is used, our technologist will usually inject it into a vein, probably in your arm.

You will be alone in the room

You will remain alone in the room after the procedure begins, but our radiologic technologist will watch you closely through an observation window and you can talk to them through a two-way intercom. The table may move a short distance every few seconds to position you for each new scan, or the table may move continuously very slowly. You will hear clicking or buzzing sounds as the mechanism in the scanner moves around your body, making images from many different angles. It is important that you lie very still during the procedure so that the scanner can get the best possible pictures and hold your breath upon request by our technician. The entire procedure including positioning on the table and effective Xrays procedure may take about 7 minutes for a body scan and 3 to 5 minutes for a head scan.

What do you do after the exam?

Drink plenty of fluids

Unless you have other tests scheduled, you may eat normal meals after the exam and your doctor will suggest that you drink plenty of fluids. Fluids will help eliminate the contrast medium from your body by natural routes.

Meet with your physician

The radiologist will study all the scans, prepare a report, and forward it to your personal physician. In most cases, this is done within 24 hours. Then your physician will discuss the results with you and tell you what they mean to your health. Conclusion We hope this information helps you better understand what a CT scan is, what it does, and the role it plays in maintaining your health. If you have any questions about CT scans that your physician has not answered, please write them down. Then be sure to discuss these questions with your physician before you arrive for your exam.


Remember, a CT scan is simple. And it provides important information about your health. At Tinley Park Open MRI, we focus on providing family friendly care and making your scan as easy and comfortable as possible.