You may want to ask your healthcare
provider about the amount of radiation used during the CT scan. He or she can also
explain your personal risks. CT scan radiation varies, but it may be up to 100 times
greater than a regular chest X-ray. It is a good idea to keep a record of your radiation
exposure, such as previous CT scans and other types of X-rays, so that you can inform
your healthcare provider. Risks linked to radiation exposure may be related to the
cumulative number of X-ray exams or treatments over a long period.
If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your healthcare provider. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects.
If contrast dye is used, there is a
risk for allergic reaction to the dye. If you are allergic to or sensitive to medicines,
contrast, or iodine, tell your healthcare provider.
If you are breastfeeding, ask if
the contrast dye may pass to your breastmilk. Nursing mothers should discuss with their
provider whether to delay breastfeeding or to pump enough breastmilk for a few days
after receiving contrast. There are currently conflicting recommendations on this
People taking the medicine metformin for diabetes should alert their healthcare provider before having IV contrast. It can cause a rare condition called metabolic acidosis. If you take metformin, you will be asked to stop taking it 48 hours before your CT scan. A blood test may be needed before you can start taking metformin again.
People with kidney failure or other
kidney problems should talk with their healthcare provider. In some cases, the contrast
dye can cause kidney failure. People with kidney disease are more prone to kidney damage
after contrast exposure.
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical problems. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
Certain things may make a CT scan of the abdomen less accurate. These include:
- Metallic objects within the abdomen, such as surgical clips
- Barium in the intestines from a recent barium study
- Stool or gas in the bowel
- Total hip replacement