Welcome to CT scanning
The CT scanners are located within the Radiology (x-ray) departments at The James Cook University Hospital and the Friarage Hospital. This leaflet describes what to expect when you are having a CT scan.
What is a CT scan?
CT (computerised tomography) is a type of x-ray and refers to the way the equipment works. Information is recorded in a series of cross-sectional pictures or scans that can be built up into 3D images of organs within the body.
Preparing for the scan
Your scan has been requested by a GP or a consultant at the hospital who is involved in dealing with your investigations and treatment.
An appointment letter is enclosed, please follow the instructions carefully. A full explanation of the procedure will be given when you arrive for your scan.
If your examination requires preparation in the department, you will be asked to arrive earlier than your appointment time, this is very important. You may be given water or a fluid to drink slowly in the period immediately before your scan. This outlines the digestive system and can enhance the quality of your scan.
Will I need to have an injection?
For the examination of certain areas of the body, an injection may be necessary to allow the Radiologist to get as much information about your condition as possible. If an injection is required, you will be required to remain in the CT department for 15 minutes and within the hospital environment for one hour after the injection.
What happens during the scan?
Throughout the procedure you will be asked to lie on a firm couch which moves in and out of the scanner, all you need to do is relax and stay still.
The images will be studied by a consultant radiologist with specialist knowledge in CT and the results will be sent to the doctor who requested your scan.
Are there any risks?
CT scanning involves the use of ionising radiation, which can cause cell damage that may, after many years or decades turn cancerous. We are all at risk of developing cancer during our lifetime. The normal risk is that this will happen to 1 in 2 people at some point in their life.
|Additional risk of cancer
|1 to 2 days
1 in 1,000,000
|CT head or limb
|3 to 6 months
1 in 10,000
|UK average annual radiation dose
1 in 10,000
|CT of whole body
|1 to 4 years
1 in 1000
As with all drugs and medication, there is a slight risk of allergic reaction due to the injection of x-ray contrast used to enhance scans. This may vary from a rash, to, very rarely, a more severe reaction. Major life-threatening reactions are rare with severe anaphylactic reactions occurring in less than 1 in 100,000 patients. (2) The Radiographers looking after you are trained to deal with any emergency.
Despite these slight risks your doctor believes it is advisable for you to have this examination as there may be a greater risk from missing a serious disorder by not having your scan.
(1) Information produced by: Northern Medical Physics & Clinical Engineering, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: March 2018.
(2) The Royal College of Radiologists. 26/07/2021 RCR statement on cover for intravenous contrast administration in Community Diagnostic Hubs. Available at:
http://www.rcr.acuk/https://www.ranzcr.com/college/document-library/ranzcr-iodinated-contrast-guidelines. Accessed: 05/06/2023
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.