How is the CT Liver Scan Procedure Performed?

In a CT liver scan, several x-ray beams pass through the abdomen and pelvis at various angles. Special sensors measure the amount of radiation absorbed by different parts of the liver. Any tumors will show up on the CT liver scan a darker gray than the surrounding liver tissue.

In order to undergo a CT liver scan, your general physician must write you a letter of referral stating why he or she believes a CT liver scan is necessary in your situation. A CT liver scan will take place in either a hospital or in an outpatient radiology center.

During a CT liver scan, the patient lies still on a table. The table is rolled into the center of the CT scanner. The CT scanner revolves around the patient and emits and records x-ray beams. The different areas of the liver absorb different amounts of x-ray. A special computer program then forms graphical cross-sections, or “tomograms,” based on these x-ray absorption differences.

Once the patient enters the scanner, the technologist may turn on special lights to ensure the patient is positioned properly for the CT liver scan. Though the technologist will not actually be in the room with the patient, an intercom within the scanner allows the patient and technologist to communicate throughout the procedure. The technologist will tell the patient when and how to breathe, as breath can disrupt the CT image.

A CT liver scan usually takes about 15 minutes. The duration of the CT liver scan depends on the number of images needed to get the information the doctor requires. At the conclusion of the CT liver scan, the technologist will look over the images to ensure sufficient images have been created to provide the radiologist with the necessary information. If more images are necessary, the technologist will ask the patient to stay for further scanning.

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