CT scans are done at our Squalicum Parkway location.

To schedule your scan, please call: 360.647.2422.

What is CT?

CT means “computed tomography”. You may also hear this referred to as a “cat scan”. This is an imaging tool which makes use of x-rays and sophisticated computers to look at the body in “slices”, allowing you physician to see your internal structures in great detail. 

Click here to learn more about CT Lung Cancer Screening

How do I prepare for my CT?

Wear comfortable cotton clothing without metal snaps; you may be asked to change into a patient gown. You may be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses, hairpins and dental work; metal objects may interfere with your imaging procedure, causing artifacts in the scan.

Please notify your physician for further instructions if:

  • You are pregnant, or may be pregnant
  • You have an allergy to iodine or x-ray contrast (dye)
  • You are diabetic
  • You take glucophage (metformin) to control your diabetes
  • You have kidney disease, renal failure, or have had your kidney(s) removed
  • You are on dialysis
  • You have lymphoma

Some conditions require a current (within 45 days) creatinine level. This is a blood test which confirms proper kidney function. Your doctor will instruct you if this lab test is necessary prior to your CT appointment. If your CT exam is ordered with contrast, you may be given instructions to pick up a prep kit at the imaging facility 24 hours in advance of your appointment.

Exams of the abdomen and/or pelvis routinely require oral contrast which is a liquid barium you must drink before your exam. Specific instructions are provided when you pick up your prep kit. The barium helps to mark your stomach and intestinal tract which are not well visualized with x-ray exams

Exams of the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis often require intravenous (IV) contrast (commonly called x-ray dye). IV contrast contains non-ionic iodine which will allow the radiologist to see your organs, such as the kidneys, liver, spleen, and the blood vessels. An IV will be inserted into a vein in your arm to deliver the contrast into your system. The technologist will monitor the IV during the injection and will let you know what to expect throughout the entire procedure.

You will be asked to be “NPO” 4 hours prior to your exam. This means you are not to eat or drink anything for four hours before your scan. If you have prescription medications which require food, you make take that medication with some dry toast and 4 ounces of water at the time you would normally take it.

What should I expect during a CT Scan?

If your exam requires oral contrast, you will be given a cup to drink just before the start of your exam; this is in addition to the bottles of barium you were instructed to drink before arriving for your exam.

You will be asked a series of health related questions before the exam. These questions help determine the nature of your exam. Because CT uses x-radiation and because the contrast used contains iodine, you will be asked several questions which will ensure it is safe for you to have a CT scan.

If your exam requires IV contrast, the technologist will start an IV at some point during the exam. This involves an injection through a vein in your arm. If you have a port-a-cath in place, please be advised that we can use a port that has been accessed. This means a trip to the lab before your exam time. The lab will send saline and heparin with you so the technologist can flush your port after a contrast injection.

The technologist will position you on the padded scan table. For the majority of CT scans you will be lying on your back with a pillow under your head.

During the scan you will be asked to hold your breath. This is a 10-30 second period of time where you will be asked to hold your breath to decrease motion on your scan. The technologist will direct you in the proper way to hold your breath.

During the contrast phase of your exam, the technologist will be in the room with you to ensure safe administration of the contrast agent.

What if I am claustrophobic?

CT Scanners are much quicker than MRI and the opening is much larger. Some patients may still experience feelings of claustrophobia during the exam; sedatives are available from your doctor to ensure your comfort.

When will I get my results?

A Registered Radiologic Technologist (RT) will perform your exam. He/She will review your scan before you leave to make sure sufficient diagnostic images have been obtained.

One of our board-certified radiologists will later interpret the images and prepare a written report for your physician. Our goal is for all reports to be available within 24 hours. If your appointment with your physician is sooner than 24 hours, let us know and our reports can be faxed or called in.

Please allow at least 30 minutes for each CT exam.