General Question

talljasperman's avatar

What does it feel like to have a CT scan?

Asked by talljasperman (21858points) October 22nd, 2014

Do I need to know anything? The scan is to find out why I am passing out when standing, and sometime just sleeping.

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10 Answers

seekingwolf's avatar

It doesn’t feel like anything. You just lie on something that is like a stretcher while this circular machine sort of whirrs around. You can close your eyes and relax. Follow directions (in terms of not moving, holding breath when instructed). It doesn’t hurt at all.

I had a couple abdominal CTs after abdominal surgery.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

It just stay still and relax. I use to take a nap while in the CT scan.

Aethelwine's avatar

Is it a CT with contrast? That’s the only thing I didn’t like about all the scans I’ve had the past two years. The contrast can make you feel like you are going to pee your pants and it can make you nauseous if you eat or drink before the scan. I ignored the advice about not eating anything for several hours before a scan and I felt like I was going to vomit all over myself at the end of the scan.

jaytkay's avatar

I had scan earlier this year. They gave me an intravenous shot of dye (the contrast) and it does make you feel like you peed your pants as @jonsblond mentions. I did fast beforehand, and I didn’t feel sick.

Be sure to ask to see the pictures. It’s all really interesting.

Winter_Pariah's avatar

Feels like boredom. I was in for a CT scan for an hour once (all depends on how much and what they need to look at). I highly recommend taking a nap.

JLeslie's avatar

The new machines take about 10 seconds to scan your head. If they are giving you contrast you’ll be given an IV of meds before they scan. The IV takes a short time to insert, you probably have had one before, and they just dump a small amount of dye, takes a two seconds, before they scan you. I have had CT’s sitting up and lying down. It feels like nothing. Neither my husband nor I felt much of anything from the dye.

@Winter_Pariah That sounds more like an MRI.

Winter_Pariah's avatar

@JLeslie it was a CT scan.

JLeslie's avatar

I wonder why it took so long? Interesting. I was scanned from head to pelvis. Part if it was with dye so they had to stop in the middle and run the dye. I think the whole thing took a few minutes.

Maybe sometimes if they find something they stall the scan on that area of the body? I have no idea, I’m just guessing.

When I had a cat scan 15 years ago of my head that took longer. I might have been in there 5 minutes.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It varies between people. The scan itself cannot be felt, and you simply lie on the table in a given position and follow instruction where relevant. I scan babies while they sleep on a regular basis, and most times they sleep right through the procedure. The positions we use for wrists and elbows can be quite awkward, but a brain scan is very simple and straight forward unless you have breathing difficulties.

The only thing that could be uncomfortable is if you are given IV contrast. Effects vary widely, as seen in prior responses, but typical effects can include feeling a warm flush throughout the body, feeling like you’ve wet yourself, and a metallic taste in the mouth. Be sure to answer the allergen questionnaire accurately, as it is possible (but very rare) to have a severe anaphylactic reaction.

However I wonder if a CT scan is in fact the most appropriate test for your symptoms. CTs are often requested before an MRI due to economic considerations, but MRIs are the gold standard for neurological imaging. The main things CTs are better for in terms of brain scans are bone-involving lesions, acute medical emergencies such as stroke and bleeds, or calcification. I would consider talking to the radiologist before you have your scan, and asking if MRI isn’t a more appropriate test for your symptoms.

talljasperman's avatar

I had it done. I just had to sit still for 3 minutes. No big deal.

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