Radiology – Computed Tomography

CTs, or CAT scans, are terms for computed tomography. They create images with a type of X-ray machine. These tests use a computer and special software to produce pictures of organs that cannot be captured with regular X-rays.

Computed Tomography (CT)

Our skilled team of technologists provides high-quality images and compassionate care for each patient. These tests are read by our board-certified, subspecialty-trained radiologists who interpret images of specific body areas and systems. We also have experts who focus on imaging in children.

Penn State Health takes part in the Image Gently program to reduce radiation exposure for our patients. Our advanced equipment can adjust the amount of radiation for each image. This lets us take the best quality image with the least possible radiation.

CT is often used to make images of the brainlungs, and kidneys and liver.


Please take these steps before your procedure:

  • Check with your doctor about instructions such as drinking plenty of fluids or not eating for a period of time prior to the test.
  • Women who are or may be pregnant should tell the technologist prior to the exam. There may be a different test that would be better for you.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes without metal zippers or snaps. These can get in the way of the images.
  • Depending on the part of the body being scanned, you may also need to remove hairpins, jewelry, piercings, eyeglasses, hearing aids or dental work.
  • IV contrast is necessary for some CT exams. Please let your doctor know if you have had a past reaction to X-ray contrast dye.


Patients typically lie on their backs on a table for this exam. Your CT technologist will be able to talk with you throughout the exam. He or she can see, hear and address any question or concern you may have. CTs usually take about 15 minutes.


The radiologist will analyze the images and send a report to your doctor. This usually happens within 48 hours. Your doctor will then discuss the results with you.