Have you ever had to have a procedure done and immediately gone to Google to find out more about it? That’s what I did when I had to get a CT scan, and I strongly advise against it! The things I read had me extremely nervous, to the point where my husband lovingly told me to step away from the computer – to save my sanity.
A little background – this CT scan was a little difficult from the beginning (just getting it scheduled). My Dr. told me I needed it the Friday before he went on vacation, and due to his office being slow while he was away, I didn’t actually go in to have it done until the following Friday. Therefore, I had PLENTY of time to get all worried about it.
First off, if you’re doing a non-emergency CT scan, you are most likely going to have to pick up a prep kit. I think they can all be a little different, depending on your hospital, but for mine I had to drink one bottle of Redi-Cat2 the night before my scan and one bottle one hour before. What exactly is Readi-Cat? That is where Google got me into trouble!
Readi-Cat is a Barium Sulfate Suspension that allows them to see your intestines and stomach easily in the CT scan. It IS NOT a laxative. However, you will hear a ton of horror stories on the internet saying that it is! For a very small percentage of the population it can cause stomach issues, but this is not true for most people.
Since I wasn’t sure what would happen (and my appetite had been pretty small anyways), I had a pretty small dinner just in case. That was a good thing, because this stuff is thick! The flavor wasn’t terrible, but the texture wasn’t great – especially the further along we went. Be sure to get it as cold as possible!! I put the mixture in an insulated cup then got into bed with a movie and did my best to convince myself it was a yummy milkshake. Other than making me burp a lot, there weren’t many effects from the mixture, although I was glad that I hadn’t eaten much dinner because it was a whole lot to drink!
The next morning I woke up hungry, so by the time it was time for my second “Berry Smoothie” I was ready for it. Once again, no major issues! We got to the hospital, waited a while, then finally got back to take the CT scan. In the CT room I was given a small cup of oral contrast that tasted a lot like Gatorade. Then I was also given contrast through an IV. This one is kind of odd – it gives you a warming sensation as it travels through your body, so you almost feel like you’re peeing in your pants! Don’t worry, you aren’t – it’s just the contrast.
There isn’t much to the scan itself – it takes about 15 minutes and the machine asks you to breath in, hold your breath, and breath normally. Afterwards, be sure to drink plenty of water to move all of the contrast fluid out of your body!
I hope this helps anyone who has to have a CT scan!