An abdominal CT scan is an imaging method that uses x-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of the belly area. CT stands for computed tomography.
Computed tomography scan - abdomen; CT scan - abdomen; CAT scan - abdomen
How the test is performed
You will be asked to lie on a narrow table that slides into the center of the CT scanner. Usually, you will lie on your back with your arms raised above the head.
Once you are inside the scanner, the machine's x-ray beam rotates around you. (Modern "spiral" scanners can perform the exam without stopping.)
A computer creates separate images of the belly area, called slices. These images can be stored, viewed on a monitor, or printed on film. Three-dimensional models of the belly area can be created by stacking the slices together.
You must be still during the exam, because movement causes blurred images. You may be told to hold your breath for short periods of time.
The scan should takes less then 30 minutes.
Review Date: 11/21/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.