Preparing for Your CT Scan: How to Drink Oral Contrast
Getting a CT (Computed Tomography) scan is a common medical procedure used to diagnose a variety of conditions, from injuries to internal organ issues. In some cases, your doctor may ask you to consume oral contrast before the scan to improve the clarity of the images. While it might sound daunting, drinking oral contrast is a straightforward process. This article will guide you through it.
What is Oral Contrast and Why Is It Used?
Oral contrast is a liquid that contains barium or iodine, which helps enhance the visibility of certain structures in your body during the CT scan. By ingesting this contrast, your digestive tract becomes more visible on the images, allowing the radiologist to better evaluate any abnormalities.
Before the CT Scan: Preparation
- Follow your doctor’s instructions: Your healthcare provider will provide specific instructions regarding when and how to drink the oral contrast. It’s crucial to follow these guidelines carefully.
- Fasting: In most cases, you’ll be asked to fast for a few hours before the scan. This ensures that your stomach is empty, making the oral contrast more effective.
The Day of the CT Scan: Drinking the Oral Contrast
- Arrive early: Arrive at the imaging center a little earlier than your scheduled appointment to complete any paperwork and have any questions answered.
- Changing into a gown: You may be asked to change into a gown to ensure that no clothing interferes with the imaging.
- The contrast solution: The radiologic technologist or nurse will provide you with the oral contrast solution, usually in a flavored form to make it more palatable.
- Drinking the contrast: You’ll be asked to drink the solution at a steady pace. It’s important to sip it slowly rather than chug it to avoid nausea. The radiology team will let you know how much to drink and how long it should take.
- Staying still: After drinking the contrast, you’ll need to stay still for a specified period to allow the contrast to distribute throughout your digestive system.
- Additional images: In some cases, you might be asked to drink more contrast during the scanning process to obtain better images.
What to Expect During the CT Scan
- The scan itself: Once you’ve consumed the oral contrast, you’ll be positioned on the CT scanner table. You’ll need to lie still, and the scanner will move around you to capture images from various angles.
- Duration: CT scans are usually quick, lasting only a few minutes. However, it depends on the type of scan and the areas being examined.
After the CT Scan
- Resuming normal activities: After the scan is complete, you can usually return to your regular activities and diet unless your doctor advises otherwise.
- Staying hydrated: Drinking plenty of water after the procedure helps flush the contrast material from your system.
- Follow-up: Your doctor will review the scan results and discuss the findings with you.
Drinking oral contrast before a CT scan is a straightforward process that helps healthcare professionals obtain clear images for an accurate diagnosis. It’s essential to follow your doctor’s instructions and cooperate with the radiology team during the procedure. Remember that the discomfort of drinking the contrast is temporary and vital for your overall health.
If you have any concerns or questions about your upcoming CT scan or how to drink oral contrast, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider. They are there to ensure your safety and well-being throughout the process.