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Computed Tomography Enterography

  • Pamela Jones, MA
Publication Type:


Computed Tomography Enterography



Computed tomography enterography (CTE) makes pictures of the small intestine. The small intestine is part of the digestive system. It lies between the stomach and large intestine.

A CTE creates an x-ray picture that is enhanced by a computer. It can provide information about organs, soft tissues, bones, and blood vessels.

The Small Intestine.

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Reasons for Test

A CTE may be done to find the cause of problems in the intestines, such as:

  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Tumors
  • Pockets of infection—abscesses
  • Abnormal passageway between two areas of the body that normally do not connect—fistula
  • Blockage

It may also be used to diagnose or check for Crohn disease.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen.

A chemical called contrast is used to improve the pictures. Some people can have a bad reaction to it. This is rare.

A CTE scan uses radiation. It may not be advised for people with certain conditions such as pregnancy.

Be sure to discuss these risks with the doctor before the test.

What to Expect


The pictures will be sent to a doctor who looks at images Your doctor will discuss the results with you.

Problems to Look Out For

Call the doctor if you have any problems, such as:

  • Hives
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea
  • Swollen, itchy eyes
  • Tightness in the throat
  • Problems breathing

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Prior to Test

The care team will meet with you to talk about:

  • Any allergies you may have
  • Fasting before the test, such as avoiding food or drink for 4 hours before the test
  • Whether you may be pregnant

Description of Test

Liquid contrast will be given by mouth before the test. Sometimes contrast is given with a feeding tube. A second contrast will be given through an IV.

You will be asked to lie on a table. The table will move slowly through the scanner. You will need to be still during the entire test. As the scanner takes pictures, you will hear humming and clicking. The technician will ask you to hold your breath at certain times. This will help get a clear picture. You will be able to talk to the technician through an intercom.

After Test

You may be asked to drink extra fluids. This will help flush the contrast from the intestines. You may have diarrhea or loose bowels while the contrast passes.

How Long Will It Take?

About 10 to 60 minutes

Will It Hurt?

The scan normally should not hurt. Some may find it uncomfortable to stay still during the scan. Most people do not have any problems after this test.





  • Crohn disease in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/crohn-disease-in-adults.
  • CT enterography. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=CTenterography.
  • Medical x-ray imaging. US Food & Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/medical-imaging/medical-x-ray-imaging.
  • Sokhandon F, Al-Katib S, et al. Multidetector CT enterography of focal small bowel lesions: a radiological-pathological correlation. Abdom Radiol (NY). 2017;42(5):1319-1341.


  • Mark D. Arredondo
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.