The CAT scan (computerized axial tomogram) is a special X-ray of the abdomen and pelvis (lower abdomen) using a very sophisticated computer with a rotating X-ray head. To help us see all the structures more clearly, a dye may be injected into one of your veins and you will be asked to swallow a liquid containing barium before the procedure. We will get a good look at most of the abdominal and pelvic structures, including the kidneys, liver, spleen and the lymph nodes surrounding the large abdominal vessels, bladder and rectum. In the female, the uterus is also seen. It is especially helpful to us in locating tumors and enlarged lymph nodes. The picture is actually generated on a computer, so the results are not always ready immediately as with simple X-rays.
If a dye is injected, the possibility of an allergic reaction is present. A physician will be in attendance and will administer the proper therapy, if needed. You will be exposed to small amounts of radiation. (If you are pregnant, tell us before the procedure.)
Liquids may be taken up to the time of the scan, but no solid food can be taken for eight hours prior to the exam. Medications may be taken whenever necessary. After the test you should drink plenty of fluids. If the radiologist gives you barium before the test, a mild laxative might be needed to wash out the barium. (Milk of Magnesia is OK.)