CT Brain Scan – Computed Tomography of the Brain

A CT Brain scan is a noninvasive test that helps diagnose and treat medical conditions.


It is an x-ray procedure that uses special equipment with the aid of a computer to produce detailed cross sectional images of the brain. These images provide very detailed information on head injuries, tumors, stroke, and other brain diseases. A majority of scans are done both with and without an iodinated contrast material. This contrast material is given to make the blood vessels in the brain show more clearly.



What are some common reasons the scan is ordered?

  • Head injuries – skull fractures, bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Facial and / or extremity numbness
  • Slurred speech
  • Extremity weakness
  • Memory loss
  • Radiation Therapy planning


How should I prepare?

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your exam.

  • Remove jewelry such as earrings and necklaces/chains.

  • You will be asked to remove dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and hairpins.

  • If the scan is ordered with and without an iodinated contrast injection, do not eat for approximately 3 hours prior to exam.

  • Take all prescribed medications on time, as usual, with water only.

  • Be sure to let your physician know of any known allergy to iodine. If allergic to iodine, you will be given medication to take the night before and the day of the scan to counteract any allergic reaction you may have to the iodinated contrast during the procedure.

  • Please bring a list of all your current medications with you to the hospital.

  • If you have diabetes and taking a medication containing Metformin, it must be held for 48 hours after your exam. Contact your doctor to restart your medicine.

  • If scheduled at the hospital, you must register at the Admitting/Registration office on the main (second) floor one hour before your exam time. If your scan is with the iodinated contrast material, you will be instructed to proceed to the lab and then to the Radiology department.

    If scheduled at Peters Township Diagnostic Center, please arrive 30 minutes before your exam time. If your scan is with the iodinated contrast material, we must have the results of your blood work (Creatinine and GFR) prior to you arriving.


What should I expect?

  • A complete history will be taken prior to the scan.

  • If your scan is being done with an iodinated contrast injection, a consent form for the procedure will be signed.

    • An IV catheter will be placed in your arm for the injection.

    • During the injection of the contrast material, you may feel a warm flushed feeling and have a metallic taste in your mouth. This is normal and will pass in a few minutes.

  • You will lie on your back on the CT table and be asked to hold your head very still.

  • While you are in the exam room during the procedure, the technologist will always be able to see, hear, and speak to you.

  • For pediatric patients, a parent may be allowed in the room but will be required to wear a lead apron to minimize radiation exposure.

  • The exam will take approximately 20 minutes.

  • After the exam is completed, you may resume a regular diet.

  • If you were given the iodinated contrast material, it is very important to drink additional amounts of water for the next 24 hours. This will help to flush the contrast material from your body. The contrast material is entirely eliminated from the body through the urine.


Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
One of our board certified radiologists will analyze the images and send a report to your primary care physician and the physician who ordered the exam. This detailed report will be sent to your physician’s office within 24-48 hours. The physician’s office will call you or the results will be reviewed at your next appointment.



What are the benefits of a CT Brain scan?

  • The scan is quick, easy and noninvasive.
  • CT scanning provides detailed images of bone, soft tissue and blood vessels.
  • No radiation remains in your body after a CT examination.
  • A CT can be performed if you have an implanted medical device of any kind, unlike MRI.
  • For your safety, the CT scanners at Washington Health System Washington Hospital are accredited by the American College of Radiology and meet their guidelines for radiation exposure.


What are the risks of a CT Brain scan?

  • Women should always inform their physician and the CT technologist if there is any possibility of pregnancy.

  • CT scanning is usually not recommended for pregnant women unless medically necessary because of the potential risk to the baby. 

  • Nursing mothers should wait 24 hours after an iodinated contrast material injection before resuming breast feeding.

  • The risk of serious allergic reactions statistically occurs one to two times per 10,000 examinations and our department is well equipped to deal with these emergencies.


If you have any questions/concerns about your CT exam, please call us at (724) 225-7000 and ask for the CT department.

If you should have to cancel your appointment, please contact us at (724) 250-4300 as soon as possible.



Our goal is to provide you with a Very Good experience. You may receive a survey in the mail. This is your opportunity to tell us about your experience. Your feedback is very important to us.