CT – Computed Tomography

Computed tomography (CT) is a non-invasive medical test that helps doctors diagnose and treat medical conditions. CT combines x-rays, an array of detectors that rotate around your body, and sophisticated computers to produce detailed cross-sectional images.

At Mackay Radiology we have the latest generation of multi-slice CT scanners, which resolve very high detail and allow reconstruction of 3-dimensional images. CT scans of organs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels provide improved clarity and reveal more information than x-rays.


Before your CT

Patient preparation for CT varies depending on the area of interest. If you are having CT of the abdomen, pelvis, chest or head, you should not eat for four (4) hours prior to your appointment, but keep well hydrated by drinking fluids. If you are having CT of the lumbar spine or sinuses, no preparation is required. When you make your appointment, our staff will advise you if you need to fast beforehand. For abdomen CT, some patients will drink oral contrast, which highlights the bowel, one (1) hour before your scan. Our booking staff will incorporate this into your appointment time, if needed.

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your CT scan. You may be asked to change into a gown before your scan. Metal objects, such as jewellery, piercings, eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids or hairpins, may affect the CT images, so you will be asked to remove such items if possible. Women will be asked to remove bras containing metal underwire. If you have a pacemaker, please advise a staff member before your scan.

If you are pregnant or think that you might be pregnant, you should advise your referring doctor, as well as the CT radiographer, before your scan. In most cases x-rays should be avoided during pregnancy, but your doctor will weigh-up the risks and benefits. See our patient safety advice for further information about pregnancy and x-rays.

Approximately 70% of patients having a CT scan need an injection of contrast media (or dye), usually through an arm vein. Because the contrast media is opaque on x-ray it shows the blood flow in organs and soft tissues, and can provide further information about the problem area. However, some people might be allergic to the contrast media.

Please advise our staff before your CT if you:

  • Have asthma
  • Are allergic to seafood of shellfish
  • Have had a previous allergic reaction to contrast media
  • Are taking medication for Type 2 Diabetes


During your CT

When you enter the CT room the radiographer will ask you to lie on the table, which will move you through the doughnut-shaped gantry that houses the x-ray tube and array of detectors.

You will hear the movement of the x-ray tube and detectors as they rotate around you to create multiple cross-sectional images of the problem area. To obtain the clearest image, you will need to keep very still and you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to avoid image blurring.

CT scans are generally painless, relatively fast and straightforward. The examination time varies, but averages around 15 minutes. Recent technology advancements now enable multi-slice CT scanners to obtain multiple cross-sectional slices during a single rotation. The resultant thinner slices show better detail and take less time.

All Mackay Radiology CT radiographers have the necessary qualifications and experience to ensure the best patient care and high-quality x-rays. All of our radiographers are accredited and licensed by Queensland Health and the Australian Institute of Radiography.


After your CT

One of our radiologists will interpret the scan and provide your doctor with a comprehensive report about the findings. You will need to return to the doctor who referred you to discuss your scan results. Processing and reporting of your CT scan could take up to two hours. For your convenience we can generally deliver the images and report to your doctor, by lunchtime on the next working day.

If you require the results for a follow up appointment on the day of the scan, you can wait for the films and we will fax or email the results to your doctor. Some of our referring doctors prefer that their patients wait for their films after the scan. You may arrange to collect the films at an alternative time, if you prefer that option.

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