An abdominal CT scan is an X-ray scan that uses a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the abdomen.

Parts of the body involved:


Reasons for the procedure:

A CT scan is done to study the organs and vascular system within the abdomen for signs of injuries, tumors or other conditions or diseases.

Your doctor may recommend an abdominal CT scan if you have the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Bowel changes
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Urinary difficulties
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained fever
  • Abdominal injury
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen

Many conditions and diseases can be diagnosed with an abdominal CT scan. These include:

  • Tumors and cysts
  • Spread of cancer from another location (metastases)
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Gall bladder disease, including gallstones
  • Pancreatitis
  • Abscess
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney disease
  • Bleeding in the abdomen
  • Liver disease

Risk factors that may lead to complications:


What to expect before the procedure:

You may be given a contrast dye depending on which tissues your doctor wants to examine. If this is the case, do not eat or drink anything for four hours before your exam.

You'll remove your clothes and put on a hospital gown. You'll also need to remove all metal-containing items, including jewelry and watches.

During the procedure:

If a contrast dye is needed, it is either injected into a vein, or you will drink it as a barium solution. You'll be positioned on a special movable table, called a gantry, part way inside the CT scanner, which is usually donut shaped.



Description of the procedure:

The gantry advances you very slowly through the CT scanner. You'll need to be very still during the entire test. As the scanner takes pictures, you'll hear some humming and clicking. The technician will ask you to hold your breath at certain points, so the picture is not blurred by movement. You can talk to the technician and/or doctor during the exam, so if you are in pain, frightened or concerned, you can communicate this immediately.

After the procedure:

If you've received contrast dye, drink extra fluids to flush it out of your body more quickly.

How long will it take?

The procedure will take 10 minutes to one hour, depending on how many areas must be scanned and how much detail is required.

Will it hurt?

The scan itself will not hurt, although you may feel restless. When you receive an injection of contrast dye, you may feel flushed and notice a salty or metallic taste in your mouth. Some people experience brief nausea as the dye circulates.

Possible complications:

Allergic or anaphylactic response to contrast dye.

Average hospital stay:


Postoperative care:



A radiologist analyzes and interprets the images created by the CT scan and sends a report to your doctor. Be sure to make a follow-up appointment with your GI doctor to review the results and determine your child's treatment plan.

Call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

You have had contrast dye and notice:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Swollen, itchy eyes
  • Tightness of the throat
  • Difficulty breathing