How Long Does a CAT Scan Usually Take?

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The term CT scan stands for Computed Axial Tomography and is often referred to as a CAT scan. It is a noninvasive test that helps doctors diagnose medical conditions. The procedure can take anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour depending on the part of the body being scanned.

Set Up

Set up is the part of the procedure that takes the longest, averaging about 15 to 30 minutes. Positioning is important and the technician may use pillows or wedges to hold parts of your body in place. She may ask you to move around on the table until you are in the desired position. Your test may require that you swallow a dye or contrast solution; in some cases, it is administered by enema or injected into an IV.

Scan

The actual scan itself takes only a few minutes and is completely painless. You may see flashing lights and hear a whirring noise during the scan. The table itself may move in and out of the scanner.

After The Scan

After the scan is complete, you may remain on the table a few minutes while the images are checked for quality. Occasionally, technicians may have to repeat part or all of the scan if movement blurred the images.

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