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Computed Tomography (CT) Scans

Computed tomography (CT), sometimes called a CAT scan, uses x-rays to make detailed pictures of structures within the body. Most parts of the body can be examined using CT. 

During the scan, the patient lies on a table attached to the CT scanner, which is a large donut-shaped machine. The CT scanner sends x-rays through the area of the body being studied. Each rotation of the scanner takes less than a second, and provides a picture of a thin slice of the area of interest.

CT Scan

Most CT scans require a patient to have an injection of material we call contrast. It is very important that you tell your technologist and the person booking your appointment if you are allergic to this contrast. There are things we can do to help prepare you for the exam.

Women's College Hospital provides abdomenal, chest, head/neck and musculoskeletal CT scans, as well as colonography (virtual colonoscopy) scans.


Having a CT scan? Click on one of the following options for more information on what to expect.

I'm having an abdomen/pelvis CT

I'm having a chest CT

I’m having a CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy)

I’m having a head and neck CT


I'm having an abdomen/pelvis CT

What do I need to do to prepare?  

You may be asked to not eat for three hours before the exam, while continuing to drink plenty of fluids. Your referring physician or our booking office will inform you of these instructions.

What will I feel during the scan?

CT scans do not cause any pain. If you are having a dye (contrast) injection, this injection may cause you to feel warm.

How long will the exam last?

The length of the exam depends on the type of scan. If an oral contrast is taken, it takes approximately 45 minutes to one hour for the contrast to move through the digestive tract. While you are drinking this oral contrast you will be in the waiting room. If there is no oral contrast, the exam can take 15 to 30 minutes. 

What am I supposed to do after my exam?

If no contrast is used, there are no specific instructions to follow. If intravenous contrast or oral contrast is used, drink water throughout the day to help eliminate the contrast. Watch for and report any delayed reaction to contrast.

When can I expect results?

A report will be sent to your doctor within 10 days.


I’m having a chest CT

What do I need to do to prepare?

You may be asked to not eat for three hours before the exam, while continuing to drink plenty of fluids. Your referring physician or our booking office will inform you of these instructions.

What will I feel during the scan?

CT scans do not cause any pain.

How long will the exam last?

Approximately 15-30 minutes.

What am I supposed to do after my exam?

If no contrast is used, there are no specific instructions to follow. If intravenous contrast is used, drink water throughout the day to help eliminate the contrast.

When can I expect results?

A report will be sent to your doctor within 10 days.


I’m having a CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy)

What do I need to do to prepare?

Please refer to your preparation sheets that will be given to you together with the preparation kit.

What will I feel during the scan?

This examination involves having a CT scan of the abdomen after filling your colon with carbon dioxide using a small rectal tube.  Following this, the CT scan will be performed, first with you lying on your back then on your stomach.

How long will the exam last?

Approximately 15-30 minutes.

What am I supposed to do after my exam?

If intravenous contrast is used, drink water throughout the day to help eliminate the contrast.

When can I expect results?

A report will be sent to your doctor within 10 days.


I’m having a head and neck CT

What do I need to do to prepare?

You may be asked to not eat for three hours before the exam, while continuing to drink plenty of fluids. Your referring physician or our booking office will inform you of these instructions.

What will I feel during the scan?

CT scans do not cause any pain.

How long will the exam last?

Approximately 15-30 minutes.

What am I supposed to do after my exam?

If no contrast is used, there are no specific instructions to follow. If intravenous contrast is used, drink water throughout the day to help eliminate the contrast.

When can I expect results?

A report will be sent to your doctor within 10 days.

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Location & Contact Information

CT Scans
Department of Medical Imaging
Women's College Hospital
76 Grenville Street
2nd Floor
Toronto, ON M5S 1B2

Phone:416-323-7515 ext. 4

Hours of Service:
Monday to Friday
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Accessibility
This program is wheelchair-accessible.


Requisition Forms

CT Requisition Form

Our Publications


  • Fully affiliated with:
  • University of Toronto
  • A member of:
  • Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO)