A CT scan is done to look at the organs and tissue in the abdomen. The doctor will look for signs of:
The doctor may recommend an abdominal CT for symptoms such as:
Bowel changes or blockages
Problems passing urine, including bleeding
Yellowed skin color
Fluid buildup in the abdomen
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen.
Sometimes a chemical called contrast is used to improve the pictures. Some people can have an allergic reaction or
kidney problems caused by the contrast.
This is rare.
A CT scan uses radiation. It may not be advised for people with certain conditions such as pregnancy.
Be sure to discuss these risks with the doctor before the test.
What to Expect
Prior to Test
If you are having contrast, the doctor may meet with you to talk about:
Any allergies you may have
Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the scan
Fasting before the scan, such as avoiding food and drink after midnight the night before
Right before the test you will be asked to remove any metal objects. This may include jewelry, hearing aids or dentures.
Description of the Test
If contrast is needed, it may be given in a drink or an injection. Sometimes it is given through the rectum as an enema.
You will be put on a special moving table. The table will move slowly through the CT scanner. You will need to stay still during the entire test. As the scanner takes pictures, you will hear humming and clicking. The technician will ask you to hold your breath at certain times. This will help get a clear picture. You will be able to talk to the technician through a small speaker.
If you had contrast, you may be told to drink extra fluid. This will flush the contrast from your body.
How Long Will It Take?
About 30 minutes
Will It Hurt?
The scan normally should not hurt. Some may find it uncomfortable to stay still during the scan. You may feel flushed if you received contrast. You may notice a salty or metallic taste in your mouth. You may also feel nauseated.
The CT images will be sent to a doctor who looks at images. Your doctor will receive the results and discuss them with you.
Computed tomography (CT)—abdomen and pelvis. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=abdominct. Accessed December 23, 2020.
Ozkok S, Ozkok A. Contrast-induced acute kidney injury: A review of practical points. World J Nephrol. 2017 May 6;6(3):86-99. Accessed December 23, 2020.
Positron emission tomography—computed tomograpy (PET/CT). Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=PET. Accessed December 23, 2020.
Prevention of contrast-induced complications. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/prevention-of-contrast-induced-complications. Accessed December 23, 2020.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.