What is CT scanning of the Abdomen and Pelvis
CT images of internal organs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels typically provide greater detail than traditional x-rays, particularly of soft tissues and blood vessels.
Using specialized equipment and medical expertise to create and interpret CT scans of the body, Radiologists (Consultants who specialise in imaging and image guided procedures) can more easily diagnose problems such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, appendicitis, trauma and some musculoskeletal disorders.
What are some common uses of the examination?
This procedure is typically used to help diagnose the cause of abdominal or pelvic pain, as well as diseases of the internal organs, small bowel and colon such as:
- appendicitis, pyelonephritis or infected fluid collections, also known as abscesses
- inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, pancreatitis or liver cirrhosis
- cancers of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, ovaries and bladder as well as lymphoma
- kidney and bladder stones
- abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), injuries to abdominal organs such as the spleen, liver, kidneys or other internal organs in cases of trauma.
CT scanning of the abdomen/pelvis is also performed to:
- guide biopsies and other procedures such as abscess drainages and minimally invasive tumour treatments
- plan for and assess the results of surgery, such as organ transplants.
- stage, plan and properly administer radiation treatments for tumours as well as monitor response to chemotherapy.
- You do not need to fast prior to the test.
- Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes.
- Remove metal objects such as jewellery, glasses, dentures, hairpins, underwire bras and piercings.
- Bring a list of any allergies and current medications.
- Inform your GP of recent illnesses/medical conditions including a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems.
- Inform your GP if you have asthma, multiple myeloma or any disorder of the heart, kidneys or thyroid gland or have diabetes — particularly if you are taking a medication called Glucophage.
- Please inform us if there is any risk that you may be pregnant.
Image courtesy of Siemens Healthcare
What will I experience during my scan?
CT exams are generally painless and fast. Due to the advanced equipment now used for this type of scanning, the amount of time that the patient needs to lie still for is significantly reduced.
When you enter the CT scanner room, special lines of light may be seen projected onto your body. This is nothing to be concerned about. They are used to ensure that you are properly positioned in advance of your scan.
You will hear slight buzzing, clicking and whirring sounds as the internal parts of the CT scanner, not usually visible to you, revolve around you during the imaging process.
You will be alone in the examination room during the CT scan, unless due to specific circumstances you require someone present.
The radiographer will always be able to see, hear and speak with you through a built-in intercom system.
Occasionally an intravenous contrast material is used, you will feel a pin prick when the needle is inserted into your vein. You will likely have a warm, flushed sensation during the injection of the contrast material and a metallic taste in your mouth that lasts for at most a minute or two. You may experience a sensation like you have to urinate; however, this is actually a contrast effect and subsides quickly. In the majority of cases contrast is not required in this type of examination.
Who interprets the results and how do I receive them?
After a CT exam, if an intravenous line (IV) was used to inject contrast material it will be removed and you can return to your normal activities.
A Consultant Radiologist with expertise in supervising and interpreting radiology examinations will analyse the images and send an official report to your referring physician, who will discuss the results with you.
Follow-up examinations may be necessary, and your doctor will explain the reason why. Sometimes a follow-up examination is carried out because a suspicious or questionable finding needs clarification with the advice of another physician or a special imaging technique. It may also be necessary for monitoring any abnormality over a period of time to determine if it is stable or has changed.