CT or CAT scan stands for computerized assisted tomography. A CT scan is an x-ray procedure enhanced by a computer. This results in a two- or three-dimensional view (referred to as a slice or cross-sectional) of a particular part of your body. It is like selecting a slice of bread out of a loaf.

Prior to the start of your CT exam, a technologist will explain the procedure to you. You may need to hold your breath at times and an IV in your arm may be necessary if a contrast medium or dye is required. It is very important not to move during the exam. You will be positioned on a scan table. Then you will be moved into the scanner, which is an open chamber. The technologist will have you in full view at all times and be in constant communication via two-way microphones and monitors. During this brief time, you will hear humming of the equipment as it produces the images. The scan table will move as different images are produced.

The length of time for the exam varies, depending on the study. Most studies are within 30 minutes. The images are stored on x-ray film. A radiologist (a physician specializing in x-ray) will interpret the study and a written report will be sent to your personal physician who ordered the exam.


Each CT exam has required preparations. The most frequently performed exams with their preps are listed. If the instructions for your exam are not listed, your physician will inform you about your exam or you may call Murray Hospital’s Radiology Department at 270.762.1919.

Food is permitted two hours before your exam. Drink a half bottle of the oral contrast “Cheetah” an hour before the exam and the remaining half bottle 30 minutes before exam time. Do not eat or drink anything after you ingest the Cheetah. IV contrast is routinely administered through an IV in the arm.

Do not eat or drink two hours before exam time. IV contrast is routinely administered through an IV in the arm.

Head with Contrast
Do not eat or drink two hours before exam time. IV contrast is routinely administered through an IV in the arm.

Head without Contrast
No prep.


Inform the technologist if you may be pregnant. A pregnancy test can be done before your scan if necessary.

The technologist will ask you several questions before your exam. This history will include previous allergies you have had, especially to iodine, a previous reaction to x-ray dye, renal (kidney) problems or diabetes. You may be requested to have a lab test performed prior to the injection of contrast to assure its safe administration. If so, you may be requested to report 60 minutes before your exam is scheduled.

If you feel any discomfort during contrast injection, tell the technologist. A temporary flush, wave of nausea or metallic taste in the mouth are common side effects, but should be reported to the technologist. If you observe any tenderness, swelling or problems in the area of the injection site or the arm where the contrast was administered within 48 hours after injection, call the radiology department at 270.762.1919. Office Personnel can transfer you to a CT Technologist or the Radiology Nurse.

Some exams require that you drink a contrast liquid. If this is necessary, you will be informed about when to drink the contrast and where to obtain it.

You must be registered in the hospital computer system before the exam can be performed. You should first report to the Hospital Registration area 30 minutes before your scheduled exam. If you are pre-registered, you may go directly to the radiology waiting area located on the first floor.


Your CT scan must be ordered by a physician. The physician’s office will make the appointment for you with Murray Hospital’s Radiology Department. If you need to cancel your appointment, please call us at 270.762.1919 so that time can be used for another patient.

If you have questions about your hospital bill, please call the business office at 270.762.1296. The radiologist’s bill is separate from the hospital’s. If you have questions about your bill from the radiologist, please call 270.759.1805.