Avoid eating or drinking anything for 4 hours before the test
Remove any metal objects, such as jewelry, hearing aids, or dentures
Description of Test
You will be asked to drink several glasses of liquid about 1-2 hours before the test. This liquid is contrast. It will help to fill the small intestine and create clearer pictures. If you are unable to drink all the liquid, you may be given a feeding tube. You will also be given a second contrast through an IV. This will help the doctors see certain structures like blood vessels.
You will be asked to lie on a special table. The technician may use pillows or straps to make sure you are in the best position. The technician will leave the room but you will be able to talk to one another through an intercom.
The table will move slowly through the scanner. You may need to take several passes through the machine. For the clearest image, you will need to be still during the entire test. As the scanner takes pictures, you will hear humming and clicking. The technician may also ask you to hold your breath at certain points. Your doctor may offer medication if you are having trouble holding still because of pain or anxiety.
The technician will make sure the needed images are taken.
You may be asked to drink extra fluids. This will help flush the contrast from your intestines. You may have diarrhea or loose bowels while the contrast passes.
How Long Will It Take?
About 10-60 minutes
Will It Hurt?
The test itself does not hurt. Holding one position through the test may be uncomfortable. Your doctor may offer medication if you have pain during the test.
You may also feel flushed from the contrast. Contrast can also cause nausea and a salty or metallic taste in your mouth.
Baker ME, Einstein DM, Veniero JC. Computed tomography enterography and magnetic resonance enterography: the future of small bowel imaging. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2008;21(3):193–212.
CT enterography. American College of Radiology and Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=CTenterography. Updated March 16, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
James Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 6/24/2013
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