About CT Scans

Computed Tomography, also known as a CT or CAT scan, is an x-ray technique that allows us to image internal portions of the body.

Instead of creating one image like a regular x-ray, a CT scan produces a series of images that are like slices in a loaf of bread. These slices allow a much more precise and detailed view, because we look at sections rather than the “whole picture.” This imaging technique clearly shows soft tissue, like the brain; in addition to dense tissue, like bone. The information gathered during a CT scan is processed by a computer and read by a radiologist to diagnose disease.

Some CT scans require the use of a contrast medium. A contrast medium, which is given intravenously (IV), highlights certain body parts so the radiologist can better see any abnormalities.

CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis often require that patients drink a barium-based liquid to outline the intestines for better viewing.

Risks Involved in a CT Scan

Risks involved in a CT scan include the following:

  • Risk of x-ray exposure; however, it is well below the level that generally causes adverse affects
  • Allergic reaction to the contrast medium, if it was used for your exam

Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation


Contact your personal physician for a referral for this exam. Then call 720-493-3700 to schedule. Also note that same-day CT Scan service is available based on availability.*

*Allergies to Contrast or Enterography and all same-day exams that require Contrast are NOT eligible for same-day exam due to the
hour-long prep before the exam. In general, same-day exams will also depend on demand for that day and the time of day the call is placed,
as well as the insurance carrier. Order must say STAT.

Insurance Coverage

CT scans are usually covered by insurance when ordered by a physician. Check with your insurance company to be sure. Please bring your insurance card with you to your exam.

Conditions to Let Us Know About

In advance of your exam, let your scheduler or technologist know if any of the following circumstances apply to you (or your child):

  • Currently pregnant
  • Previous reaction to iodine contrast injection
  • Renal disease
  • Over age 65
  • Asthma with inhaler use 2 times or more per day
  • Diabetic and taking the medication glucophage

Preparation Guidelines

The preparation for a CAT scan depends on the type and purpose of the scan that is ordered. Following is information for various CAT scans. You may receive additional or differing guidelines based on your specific situation. Please contact us at 720-493-3700 if you have any questions.

All CAT Scans
  • Drink only clear liquids for 4 hours before the exam.
  • Take all prescribed medications.
  • Bring any related images not done at an Invision Sally Jobe center.
  • Bring your insurance card.
  • Arrive 20 minutes prior to the exam time, unless otherwise directed.
Sinus Everything listed under “All CAT Scans” and:

  • No nasal irrigation for 24 hours prior to the exam.
Internal Auditory Canal Without Contrast Everything listed under “All CAT Scans” and:

  • Do not wear metal from the neck up, including all jewelry and hair accessories.
Abdomen Without Contrast Everything listed under “All CAT Scans” and:

  • Arrive at the Invision Sally Jobe center 1 hour in advance of the exam time for barium.
Support for Children

If your child is having the exam, it is important that you provide emotional support for him or her before and during the procedure. If your child is old enough to understand, explain the procedure to him or her. Let him or her know that the exam won’t hurt and that he or she will have to lie very still throughout the exam. Also reassure your child that you will be able to remain in the room during the exam.

What to Expect

During the Exam

CAT scans vary depending on the area of the body being imaged and whether or not contrast or sedation is needed. However, here is generally what will happen:

  1. A technologist will ask you some safety questions.
  2. You will remove all metal and metallic objects, such as eyeglasses, belts, hair accessories and jewelry. You may also need to change into a gown. You may use a secure locker for your personal items during your exam.
  3. If you need contrast, a small IV will be placed in your hand.
  4. You will go to the exam room. The technologist will help position you on the scanner table.
  5. During the scan, which usually lasts about 15 minutes, you will hear normal whirring and mechanical noises as the CAT scanner rotates around your body. You may be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time (usually for a chest or abdominal CAT scan). It is extremely important not to move any part of your body during the scan to avoid blurring the images.
  6. If an IV was placed in your hand, it will be removed after the exam is completed.
  7. If you changed into a gown, you will change back into your clothes.

The technologist will not stay in the room during the scan, but you can speak with him or her throughout the exam by intercom.

Some specialized exams may take longer than 15 minutes. If you require copies of your CAT images, please notify the technologist before your exam begins.

CAT Scans Requiring Contrast Medium

Contrast medium is given by intravenous (IV) injection. It may be given before any scans are taken or after a set of scans is taken. The contrast may cause a warm sensation throughout your body and a metallic taste in your mouth.

Additional Measures for Children

If the patient is a child, two adults may be in the CAT room with him or her.

After the Exam


You can return to your normal activities immediately after your CAT scan.

Exam Results

A board-certified radiologist experienced in the interpretation of CAT scans will analyze the data and results from your exam. If the patient is a child, the exam data will be analyzed by a radiologist experienced in the interpretation of pediatric CAT scans. The results will be reported to your physician. Your physician will pass the results onto you.

During the exam, our radiologists and technologists will be happy to answer questions about the exam itself; however, they will not immediately provide you with the results of your exam.

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