CT Abdomen Pelvis with Contrast
CT (Computed Tomography) scan is an imaging modality that uses a series of X-rays taken from different angles and a computer to create cross-sectional images of internal body organs, bones, and soft tissues.
The abdomen/belly refers to the area between the chest and groin. It holds many vital digestive and reproductive organs like the stomach, the intestines (small and large), the pancreas, the liver and gallbladder, the uterus, the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder, and many blood vessels (arteries and veins).
Pelvis refers to the area below your belly, surrounded by hip bones. It holds many vital urogenital organs and some parts of digestive organs like the large bowel, small bowel, urinary bladder, female reproductive organs, prostate, and other male reproductive organs, lymph nodes, and pelvic bones.
A contrast material is often used to enhance image quality. Contrast is a special dye usually injected through a vein in your arm to improve the image quality. Before IV contrast, you may be asked to drink barium or Gastrografin solution for this test, which are also contrast materials.
Why and when do you need this test?
Your doctor may advise this test if you have signs and symptoms of a disease related to the abdominal and pelvic organs or some deranged results of other medical tests that may point toward the pathology of the organs that reside in the abdomen or pelvis.
Some of the indications for a CT scan abdomen and pelvis include the following;
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Inability to pass stool or gas for a longer duration. (to check for intestinal obstruction)
- Blood in the stool or urine (hematuria)
- Trauma to the abdomen or pelvis
- Difficulties with urination
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding,
- Abdominal or pelvic infections
- Problems with genital organs (testes, scrotum, prostrate),
- Diseases of the uterus, ovaries, and infertility,
- Masses, tumors, cancers, and abscesses of the abdominal or pelvic organs that may be palpable or identified by some other tests
- Cancer staging
Do you need to prepare for the test?
It is a special test that may need some preparation.
- You may be asked to use only a liquid diet 3-4 hours before the test or to stop drinking or eating for a few hours before the test.
- This test uses X-rays, which can harm a fetus, so ensure you are not pregnant.
- You will be given around 1 to 1.5 liters of barium liquid to drink over two hours before the test.
What can you expect?
- You will be asked to lie down on the table that will slide into the CT scan machine that looks like a large donut with a tunnel.
- Contrast material will be injected through a vein in your arm.
- You need to lie down still and not move to prevent the images from getting blurry. You may also be asked to hold your breath sometimes.
- You will be alone in the room but under the constant care of a technician across the glass window who will be talking to you.
- It is a painless procedure that lasts for about 15-20 minutes but may take longer.
Are there any risks to this test?
There is a slight chance of allergic reaction to the contrast material, but it can be controlled through medicines. Inform your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to iodine, are diabetic, or have kidney disease.
It is a non-invasive test that uses low doses of X-rays that poses no risks unless you are pregnant.
What do the test results mean?
A radiologist who is an expert in interpreting MRI results will send a signed report to your doctor. Your doctor could tell you if the report shows any abnormality that may be causing your symptoms.
The abnormal results may include;
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis)
- Liver disease (alcoholic or fatty)
- Gallbladder diseases or stones
- Kidney, Ureter, or Urinary bladder stones
- Cancers of the digestive tract
- Kidney or Bladder cancer,
- Ovarian tumor,
- Endometrial fibroids, adenomyosis or cancer,
- Prostate or testicular cancers,
- Structural defects of the pelvic organs,
Other related tests may include: