common side effects of CT scans

Common Side Effects of CT Scans

Computed tomography—commonly known as a CT scan, CAT scan, or computerized axial tomography—involves the use of multiple X-rays to form three-dimensional images of specific body parts. This allows doctors to look at organs, injuries, or growths from different angles. 

According to research from Columbia University Medical Center, over 70 million CT scans are performed in the United States each year. Because CT images use x-ray technology, there is radiation involved. Depending on where on the body the CT scanner is placed, there may be side effects. Other factors include any previous medical history and the use of contrast agents.

Contrast Agents

Contrast agents, also known as radiocontrast agents or contrast dyes, are used in CT scans to highlight structures that are difficult to differentiate from their surroundings, such as the brain, spine, lungs, or kidneys. Most are iodine-based and are injected intravenously (into a vein) in advance of the scan. Most people who report side effects from CT scans are actually reacting to contrast materials, not the scan itself. 

Common side effects of contrast dyes include:

  • Flushing
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you do experience these reactions, please tell your doctor and imaging staff as soon as possible. These reactions are rare, often mild, and go away within a few hours. It’s important to inform the radiologist or technologist if you have a history of allergies (especially to medications, previous iodine injections, or shellfish), diabetes, asthma, a heart condition, kidney problems, or thyroid conditions. These conditions may indicate a higher risk of iodine reactions or problems with eliminating the iodine after the exam. 

To book a scan, visit us at Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.


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