I went to the new Stanford Cancer Center South Bay this morning at 9 am to have a CT and MRI scan done. I came in fasting, and after a little confusion about my insurance approval, I was escorted to the waiting area.
After a little while, a technician picked me up and lead me to a small prep room. In IV for contrast was prepared on my right arm. And I had to switch to a gown, since I was wearing pants with a zipper. Tip: wear sweat pants, then you can keep your own cloth on. 15 minutes later, I was escorted to the CT scanner room, where the scan was done without any problems.
Typical CT procedure (torso and pelvis)
You lie down on your back on “bed” that can slide in and out of the scanner. After confirming that you are comfortable and can lie still in this position for a while, the technician leaves the room. (They are now monitoring you with camera and you can speak to them via a mic and speaker.
You are then sent into the machine, and an automated recording asks you to breath in and hold your breath. The machine slides you through while scanning. The first one I had took 12 seconds or so. Then the procedure is repeated again while you hold you breath and lie completely still for 12 seconds or so.
Next the technician will tell you that he IV contrast now will be injected, and you will feel a slight warm sensation in your throat.
While this is happening the machine again asks you to breath in and hold your breath. This time the slide through the machine is closer to 30 seconds, and it is of course very important that you do not move at all during this time.
Once this is complete you are done with the CT scan. The effect of the dye wears off pretty quickly, and if this is your only scan you should be good to drive home after resting for 15 minutes.
In my case, I was continuing to the MRI scan.
Typical MRI Procedure (Pelvis)
Once placed on the “bed” I was given some kind of gel in my rectum, to expand the area of interest for the scan. I was also given an injection of something that wold slow down my digestive system, so as little as possible movement in my body would happen.
I was also “strapped in” with a cover on top of my. I was told that this was needed for the MRI to reflect correctly. Once done they let left the room and had the bed slide into the machine. This can get very claustrophobic, but fortunately this is not a problem I have.
The technician will no do a series of scans, where you can breath normally through all of them. In my case it took 30 to 40 minutes, and they do talk to you from the monitor room and explain to you what is going on. In a few cases a doctor had to look at the scan and then give directions for what to focus in on.
My experience of the procedure here at Standford was very positive. They mount a “tracker” on you, so the staff at all times know where you are, I did not experience the usual problem with patients and staff everywhere, I was pretty much alone throughout the entire visit. That was excellent.