For gastroenterologists, CT scans are used to evaluate the liver, pancreas, pelvic area, small intestine, and blood supply to the gut. A CT scan, or a computer tomograohy scan, is a non-invasive, diagnostic procedure that uses a large cylinder-shaped X-ray machine to produce high-resolution images. Most commonly used by your Arlington, Texas gastroenterologist to take pictures of the abdomen, pelvic areas, and thorax (are between the head and abdomen), a CT scan combines the images taken by the machine to create a three-dimensional view of a patient’s internal organs and body structure.
Reasons for the Scan
CT scans are commonly used by gastroenterologists to verify the presence or absence of tumors, infections, abnormalities, or to evaluate changes in the body due to trauma. Your Arlington gastroenterologist may order a CT scan to determine the cause of abdominal pain, or to examine organs, including the stomach, liver, pancreas, small intestine, gall bladder, and colon. It can also help diagnose lung and liver disease, cancer, blood clots, and internal bleeding. CT scans are oftentimes used when fast diagnosis is critical, as it can be a lifesaving test.
Gastroenterologists also use a CT scan to diagnose certain conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, colon cancer, or appendicitis. Because there is a small amount of radiation exposure during CT scanning, your Arlington gastroenterologist will carefully consider whether it is necessary to undergo this test.
What to Expect
The actual CT scan typically only takes a few minutes, however, you should plan on the entire time spent at the scanning facility to be up to 3 hours. During the CT scan, you will be placed on a specified tale that is passed through the center of the the large, cylinder-shaped X-ray machine. It is very important that you remain extremely still during the procedure. The technician will lead you through inhaling and exhaling, which will help ensure the clearest images are taken for your gastroenterologist.
Before the Procedure
Patients undergoing a CT scan will be told to refrain from eating solid foods for three hours before the exam. However, clear liquids and routine medications are fine. If you are undergoing an abdominal or pelvic scan you may be required to drink an oral contrast (such as barium), which will allow the technician to have a clearer view of certain internal structures.