On the occasion that a patient is recommended an MRI or CT scan with contrast, the immediate reaction is automatically fear as numerous questions race through their minds. If this is you, we’re here to help. Firstly, your concern is quite understandable, especially if you are suddenly wondering if something is seriously wrong with you. However, these might be unnecessary worries. MRI or CT scans with contrast are sometimes required when the doctor might want to concretely investigate an apparent abnormality. Remember that getting a scan with contrast, does not mean you are likely to have a tumour or anything serious– the doctors just want to ensure they’re covering all angles and giving the right diagnosis, so that you can get the right treatment quicker without repeating scans.
In this blog, we shall be answering most of the questions and doubts our patients have voiced to us. If you need any more clarification, feel free to reach out to us.
What is a scan with contrast?
Very simply, contrast is a special dye that helps highlight the area of your body that the doctor wants to examine more closely under a scan. The procedure of getting a scan where the patient uses this contrast or dye is called a scan with contrast.
Why is a contrast agent required?
The short answer for why a contrast agent is required is: to be more accurate in the diagnosis. After administering the contrast, the structures are much cleaner. In some cases, contrast is required to see the blood vessels more clearly. However, contrast is required in just thirty or forty percent of the cases, only if there is some abnormality or infection, or if there is some tissue that may need closer investigation.
Why am I told I need a contrast during the scan, and not before?
Sometimes, the need for contrast is more apparent when the doctors see the area being scanned, and realize they need to see the problem area more clearly in order to make a more accurate diagnosis. This happens in a few instances, and this is why patients are told during the scan that a contrast needs to be administered. In such cases, there is no way to foresee this contrast requirement.
What is the duration of a scan with contrast?
While an MRI scan takes 30 minutes on average, CT scans can take about 10 minutes. However, sometimes more than one MRI scan is necessary, which could take some additional time. The silver lining? At Star Imaging, our scans get done faster, thanks to more advanced technology. For example, at our centre in Wakad, we have the world’s fastest 3T MRI scanner, which reduces scan times by 50%.
What preparation is needed before a scan with contrast?
CT scans with contrast require fasting for 4 hours. A normal renal function test is required before administering contrast. Ask your scan centre for more information when you set up your appointment. In abdomen studies, the oral contrast is given an hour before the scan. MRI contrast studies do not require fasting.
What are the side effects of a scan with contrast?
In some very rare cases, there is a slight possibility of an allergic reaction to the contrast. While your doctor will warn you of the side effects, such as nausea or itching, it is important to remember that the chances of an allergic reaction happening are very slim.
Have more questions on scans with contrast? Feel free to reach out to us and ask us your queries – we’re here to help and guide you.