4 Things to Ask Your Physician Before Your CT Scan

May 7th 2016

CT scans are helpful when it comes to diagnosing certain illnesses, cancers and blood conditions, but it is always important for individuals to ensure they are completely informed before submitting to the testing procedure. Asking the right questions prior to testing provides you with the peace of mind in knowing you made an informed decision regarding your health and wellness.

Why Is the Test Being Performed?

The first question to ask is why does the physician feel the test needs to be performed. You may have already been provided with a general explanation, but there is always the chance the test is unnecessary, and it is your right to know. It is also important to ask if the test is essential to your treatment and whether skipping the test completely makes a difference in your diagnosis.

What Are the Potential Risks and Side Effects?

Side effects of CT scans are considered rare, and the National Cancer Institute explains the risk of developing cancer following a CT scan is approximately 1 in 2,000. However, it is still important to discuss your risk factors with your physician, as your particular condition may increase the chance of complications. For example, individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing kidney toxicity from the contrast dye utilized during the test, and certain individuals may experience allergic reactions during the procedure or following it.

Are There Any Safer Alternatives That Do Not Require Radiation?

While your physician most likely recommended a CT scan because he feels it is the best procedure for your particular condition, it is always a good idea to request an alternative nonradiation test if possible. Alternative testing procedures that may help in diagnosing your condition include ultrasound tests and magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, tests.

Is the Radiology Facility Credentialed?

Another important question to ask your physician is whether the facility in which your test is performed is credentialed by a trusted accreditor such as the American College of Radiology. The technician performing your scan should also be credentialed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.


Computed tomography scans are imaging tests that aid in the diagnosis of a variety of conditions that include cancer, blood clots, kidney stones and bone diseases. The average cost of a CT scan typically ranges between $695 and $900, depending on the part of the body that requires the test and the specific extent of the procedure. While CT scans are often necessary, it is important for patients to weigh the pros and cons of the procedure before consenting to the test. If your physician recommends a CT scan, asking the following questions can help you determine whether the test is the right choice for your particular needs.

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