Computerised tomography, or ‘CT’ scanning is a medical imaging technique that combines multiple x-ray images to produce a detailed, image of the body’s internal structures.The detail of the images may be enhanced with a contrasting agent. This is called computerised tomography enterography (CTE). The contrasting agent is a type of ‘dye’ that can be taken in the form of a large drink before the scan, or as an intravenous injection during the procedure. Preparation usually includes avoiding food and drink in the hours prior to the procedure, as this can make it difficult to identify disease signs in the bowel.
The procedure involves lying down on a flat surface, which passes through the large ring-shaped scanner. The scanner will rotate around the target area (i.e., abdomen) as it takes x-ray images, taking images from multiple different angles. You will be asked to remain still and hold your breath as moving during the scan can produce blurred images.
This method can be used to identify:
- Inflamed areas of the bowel
Unlike a colonoscopy, a CT/CTE scan can examine the entire length of the small bowel. It is also less invasive, and patients are able to return to continue with their lives almost immediately afterward (i.e., you don’t need to wait hours for sedation to wear off). The procedure is usually over quickly and patients may only have to wait a short while afterwards if they have been administered a contrast agent –incase of nausea or an allergic reaction. CT/CTE scanning is not without disadvantages. Like x-rays, patients are exposed to ionising radiation during the scan, which can pose a risk for pregnancy.
Things to note:
- It is essential you follow the instructions given to you with regard to avoiding food/drink prior to the scan. This is to ensure the accuracy of the scan
- Tell the doctor if you are pregnant. CT/CTE scanning may pose a risk to the developing foetus
- Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any allergies. The contrasting agent can pose a risk of allergic reaction and your doctor may give you a medication to minimise this risk.