Computed Tomography (CT) Scan of the Spine
How It Is Done continued...
may need to take off any jewelry. You will need to take off all or most of your
clothes, depending on which area is studied. You may be able to wear your
underwear for some scans. You will be given a gown to use during the
During the test, you will lie on a table that is attached to
the CT scanner.
table slides into the round opening of the scanner, and the scanner moves
around your body. The table will move while the scanner takes pictures. You may
hear a click or buzz as the table and scanner move. It is very important to lie
still during the test.
During the test, you may be alone in the
scanning room. But the technologist will watch you through a window. You
will be able to talk to the technologist through a two-way intercom.
The test will take about 30 to 60 minutes. Most of this time is spent getting ready for the scan. The actual scan only takes a few seconds.
CT scan with contrast (CT myelogram)
A standard CT
scan may be done before the contrast material for a CT
myelogram is given. The dye is usually put in the space around your spinal cord. A sample of
the fluid from the spinal canal (cerebrospinal fluid) may be taken out
so other tests can be done on it.
If dye is
placed in your back, you will lie on your stomach or on your side on a table. The dye is usually put in your lower
back but may be put in at the base of your skull. The skin over the site may be
shaved. It will be cleaned. The area around the site may be
numbed with medicine.
The table may be tilted or you may be moved
into different positions so the dye moves to different areas of the
You need to lie very still so the dye stays in the right
place for clear pictures. Your pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure may be
checked during the test.
In some cases, the dye can also be put in
a vein (IV) in your arm.
A CT scan with contrast material
usually takes 15 to 30 minutes. Drink lots of liquids for
24 hours after the scan to help flush the dye out of your body.