Computed Tomography (CT scan imaging, CT exam) is a painless, noninvasive diagnostic procedure that uses an advanced x-ray technology to produce detailed cross-sectional images of your body. Guided by a computer, these complex images are produced by rotating a narrow x-ray beam around the patient and taking images from multiple angles. The images produced by CT radiology appear as thin slices of the area being studied similar to the slices in a loaf of bread.
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Scheduling Your CT Exam
- CT scan imaging appointments are scheduled M- F from 7:00am to 5:30pm and Saturdays from 8:00am to 12:00pm.
- CT radiology exams are by appointment only. Typically, your referring physician will schedule an appointment for you. If you need to reschedule your CT exam or if you have been asked to schedule your appointment yourself, please call Radiology Scheduling at 314-362-7111 or 877-992-7111, M-F from 7:00am to 5:30pm.
- If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician's order and any pre-authorization information required by your insurance or health plan provider in hand before calling Radiology Scheduling.
Flash CT Scanner
Before Your CT Exam
- Please confirm with your referring physician's office that any precertification required by your insurance has been completed before your CT appointment.
- Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment to allow for registration time.
- Please bring a photo ID (driver’s license or state ID), insurance card(s), and a completed Medication Record with you to your appointment.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. In some cases, you will be given a hospital gown to wear during the procedure.
- Take your medication as you normally do, unless your referring physician has told you otherwise.
- Other than taking your medication, do not eat or drink anything for 2 hours before your CT exam unless otherwise instructed.
- Be prepared to discuss your completed Medication Record , allergies, past medical history, and any previous surgeries.
- Women should always inform their physician and the CT technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
- Based on age and renal status, patients having a CT done with contrast require a recent serum creatinine lab test. For your convenience, this test can be done in the CT department before your CT exam.
During Your CT Scan Imaging
For your CT radiology exam, a technologist will help you onto a table and make sure you are comfortable. As the procedure begins, you will hear a humming sound from the CT machine. The table you are lying on will move through the doughnut-shaped scanner as the CT tube rotates around you. The scanner will take images that will then be processed by the computer and displayed on a screen to the technologist. You should remain as still as possible and follow the breathing instructions given by the technologist to produce the clearest images. Exams typically take 15 minutes or less, but may vary according to the area being imaged. From start to finish, please allow at least 45 minutes for your entire CT appointment.
Some CT exams require a contrast material that consists of iodine or barium to make parts of your body display more clearly. If a contrast material is necessary for your exam, a nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous line into a vein in your hand or arm. In some cases, you will be given a liquid containing the contrast material to drink before the exam. With IV contrast, you may notice a metallic taste in your mouth and/or a warm sensation in your body. Not to worry, this is normal and will subside quickly. With oral contrast, you may notice slight changes in bowel movements, this too will return to normal. You should report any unusual symptoms to the CT technologist.
In rare cases, some people have an allergic reaction to the contrast. By having your procedure at a Barnes-Jewish Hospital Radiology, you are assured of being monitored and given immediate treatment if a reaction occurs.
Those with known allergies to iodinated contrast need to be especially careful in informing their referring physician’s office before a CT exam is ordered. You may still be able to have the CT exam; however, you may have to take additional medications prior to the exam. Always inform the physician and technologist of any allergies.
After Your CT Scan Imaging
Patients who receive IV or oral contrast for their exam are encouraged to drink plenty of water for 48 hours after their CT exam to help flush the contrast from their system.
Questions About Your CT Exam
Please call the CT department at 314-747-9696
with any questions about your CT exam.
All radiology exams are read by a physician known as a Radiologist. The radiologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital are all specialized experts in their field. The radiologist will send the results of your CT scan imaging to your referring physician’s office within 24 hours. If needed, the radiologists are available to discuss your results with your referring physician. Your physician’s office will then in turn discuss the results with you.
About your bill
You will receive two bills for your exam:
- The hospital bill includes the cost to cover equipment, supplies, and technical personnel. For questions, call Hospital Billing at 314-362-0710.
- The radiologist’s bill covers the professional interpretation of your exam. For questions, call Mallinckrodt Institute (Washington University) Patient Accounts at 314-273-0500.