For any queries about a treatment or therapy, please consult your healthcare professional.

How is an X-ray carried out?

During an X-ray you will be asked to lie on a table or stand against a flat surface; this is so the part of your body being examined can be positioned between the machine and the photographic plate. The part of your body being examined will be exposed to X-rays for a fraction of a second to create an image.1

How is a CT scan carried out?

During a CT scan, you will usually lie on your back on a flat bed; the CT scanner consists of an X-ray machine the shape of a ring that rotates around your body to create an image. You will usually be moved continuously through this rotating beam.2

How is an MRI scan carried out?

An MRI scanner is a large tube that contains powerful magnets. You will lie inside the tube during the scan whilst radio waves produce detailed images of the inside of your body.3

How should I prepare for my scan?

Guidelines about eating and drinking before X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans vary according to the specific examination and whether you are having a contrast agent administered or not; for some specific examinations you may be required to limit your food or drink intake prior to the appointment; the hospital or radiology department will always advise you about what steps to take to prepare for your scan before it takes place. For certain examinations such as an MRI you may be asked to remove all jewellery, watches, credit cards or hearing aids which may be damaged during the exam and please be aware that during any type of examination you may be asked to wear a gown.

Why is a contrast agent used?

A contrast agent may be used during your X-ray, CT or MRI scan to make specific organs, blood vessels or tissues more visible to the healthcare professional, in order to aid your diagnosis.4

Do contrast agent injections hurt?

You may feel a slight tingling or warm sensation as the agent is being administered, usually this should not be painful. The healthcare professional looking after you during the examination will explain any expected sensations or side-effects from the treatment prior to administration.

How long will the contrast agent stay in my body?

Contrast agents are naturally excreted by the body through urine or bowel movements after administration.4 The time it takes to be excreted by your body will depend upon the type of contrast used, the radiographer or doctor will be able to provide you with any specific details that you would like to know.

Is it ok to eat, drink or drive after having an examination using a contrast agent?

Aftercare will vary according to the type of scan you have undertaken and the contrast agent used; specific advice about aftercare will be provided by the healthcare professional prior to or during your examination.

When can I breast feed again following an examination using a contrast agent?

Breast feeding mothers should discuss with their radiographer whether they can breast feed immediately following the examination.

  1. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/x-ray/Pages/Introduction.aspx accessed March 2018
  2. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/ct-scan/Pages/Introduction.aspx accessed March 2018
  3. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/MRI-scan/Pages/How-is-it-performed.aspx accessed March 2018
  4. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/safety/index.cfm?pg=sfty_contrast accessed March 2018