Computerised Tomography (CT)
A CT scanner uses X-rays to produce a series of cross-sectional images of the body.
A CT scan can be performed on any part of the body. All CT images can be viewed in 3D.
These scans are carried out by specialised radiographers (healthcare professionals trained to carry out scans) and radiologists (specialist doctors trained to review images) assisted by our specialised nursing staff.
More on what we do
The CT equipment consists of a gantry frame (shaped like a doughnut) which houses the x-ray tube and detectors. There is also a patient couch, a computer and viewing system.
When you come for a CT scan you will need to lie on a scan couch. This couch moves through the scanner to allow the machine to gather X-ray images of the area of your body being examined.
All the data is then sent to a computer to produce the images. These images are reviewed by a Radiologist and a report is sent to your GP or Consultant.
You should not feel any discomfort, neither should you feel claustrophobic because the scanner doesn't surround your whole body at once. Only the area being scanned will be in the middle of the scanning gantry (i.e. the middle of the doughnut).
If you're having a CT scan of your head, only your head is in the gantry. If we're scanning your abdomen (tummy) or thorax (chest), your head will be on one side of the gantry and your legs on the other.
You might be asked to change into a gown, depending on what part of your body is being scanned.
The Radiographer will make you as comfortable as possible on the scanning table. The examination time can vary, depending on which area of the body is being examined. The actual scan is usually completed in a few minutes but some patients can be in the department for up to one hour.
For many CT examinations, a contrast dye is needed to highlight blood vessels and organs within the body. This involves an injection into one of the veins in your arm. The contrast dye used in CT scans contains iodine. The radiographer will ask you about your medical history and if you have any known allergies, kidney problems or diabetes.
Pregnant women do not routinely have a CT scan, so please make sure that you tell your doctor or the Radiographer if you think there is a chance you could be pregnant.
If you have been booked for an abdominal or pelvic CT scan and your appointment does not fall within 10 days of the start of your last period, please contact the department before attending.
CT scans can also be used for taking biopsies (samples) of abnormal tissue and for therapeutic injections for pain relief.
Here, the CT scanner is used to direct the needle into the affected area. The procedures are often performed as a day case, but sometimes an overnight stay is needed.
Medical Imaging has a small team of nurses consisting of: a radiology sister, registered nurses, HCA (healthcare assistant) and an auxiliary, who have many years of experience and skills between them.
Their role within the department is to assist with all interventional procedures in all areas, including CT, MRI, ultrasound, fluoroscopy and interventional radiology. They also assist patients in recovery post procedure before sending them to wards or discharging them home.
Where to find us
RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW
The Medical Imaging Department
Area M, Level 1
To contact the CT team, call 01392 402 336 (press option 1, then option 4)
The team is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm
Patient leaflets and documents
Children and young people
Our team is very experienced in scanning children and young people, helping them to feel at ease while in our care.
Sometimes, however, it might not be possible to carry out the scan because of the use of X-rays or if young patients have high anxiety about having a scan.
If this happens, we can rebook your child again at later time/date. In some cases, a general anaesthetic may need to be arranged.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact us.