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Changes to CT Scan Prep

June 12, 2018

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By Nancy Gay

Preparing for a CT scan (computed tomography scan) at Moffitt Cancer Center just got easier. Many patients will now be able to drink water instead of an oral contrast before getting a scan. Moffitt’s Department of Diagnostic Imaging made the change after research showed that water can be as effective as or more effective than routine barium contrast. This means patients no longer have to drink anything prior to arriving for a scheduled CT scan appointment. Water, or in some cases an oral contrast, will be given upon arrival along with drinking instructions.

During a CT scan, an X-ray beam is directed at the patient and rotated around the body. A computer then generates “slice”-shaped images that depict organs, bones, soft tissues and other internal structures.

Images produced by CT scans are more detailed than images produced by traditional X-rays. As a result, they are widely used for several purposes, including:

  • Identifying tumors or early-stage lesions that could potentially be cancerous
  • Determining the size and stage of a cancerous tumor
  • Planning for surgery or external beam radiation therapy
  • Measuring a tumor’s response to treatment
  • Monitoring a patient for recurrent cancer or monitoring a high-risk person as part of an early detection program

While CT scans play a crucial role in the diagnostic process, they can only identify unusual growths within the body; they cannot determine if that growth is cancerous. If a patient’s CT scan results indicate anything unusual, additional testing may then be performed.

Patients with questions may call: