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CT Scan of the Abdomen

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


CT Scan of the Abdomen

(Abdominal CT)


A CT scan is a type of x-ray. It uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body. In this case, images of the body that lie between the chest and hips.

CT Scan of the Kidneys.

kidney CT scanhttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=74327432exh41003b.jpgexh41003b.jpgNULLjpgexh41003b.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\exh41003b.jpgNULL63NULL2008-12-04250398Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Test

A CT scan is done to look at the organs and tissue in the abdomen. The doctor will look for signs of:

  • Injury
  • Tumors
  • Infections
  • Other diseases

The doctor may recommend an abdominal CT for symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bowel changes or blockages
  • Problems passing urine, including bleeding
  • Yellowed skin color
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained fever
  • Abdominal injury
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen

Possible Complications

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

Sometimes a chemical called contrast is used to improve the pictures. Some people can have an allergic reaction or kidney problems caused by the contrast. This is rare.

A CT 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

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Swollen, itchy eyes
  • Tightness of throat
  • Difficulty breathing

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





  • Computed tomography (CT)—abdomen and pelvis. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=abdominct.
  • Ozkok S, Ozkok A. Contrast-induced acute kidney injury: A review of practical points. World J Nephrol. 2017 May 6;6(3):86-99.
  • Positron emission tomography—computed tomograpy (PET/CT). Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=PET.
  • Prevention of contrast-induced complications. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/prevention-of-contrast-induced-complications.


  • Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
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.