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Computed Tomography (CT) Scan of the Spine

How It Is Done continued...

You 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 test.

During the test, you will lie on a table that is attached to the CT scanner.

The 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 spine.

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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 05, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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