CT Enterography

What is computed tomography (CT) enterography?

CT enterography is an imaging test that uses CT imagery and a contrast material to view the small intestine and structures within the abdomen and pelvis. The procedure allows your healthcare provider to find out what is causing your condition. They can also tell how well you're responding to treatment for a health issue, such as Crohn's disease.

A computerized tomography scan, or CT scan, is a type of X-ray that uses a computer to make cross-sectional images of your body.

CT enterography is a quick, accurate, and painless procedure.

Unlike regular X-ray images and a routine CT scan, CT enterography is able to provide detailed images of the small bowel.

Why might I need CT enterography?

This test is typically done to find:

  • Inflammation

  • Tumors

  • Bowel obstructions, abscesses, or fistulas

  • The source of bleeding

  • Location and severity of Crohn's disease

What are the risks of CT enterography?

CT enterography uses X-ray technology with as little radiation exposure as possible. Talk with your healthcare provider about this risk.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any allergies to contrast materials, iodine, or shellfish. Also tell your provider if you have had an allergic reaction to contrast materials or dyes in the past.

Tell your provider if you are pregnant or think that you may be pregnant.

If you are breastfeeding, talk with the radiologist about when to resume breastfeeding after contrast material is injected.

Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking the diabetes medicine metformin. You may be told to stop taking this medicine before the scan.

If you have kidney problems, talk with your healthcare provider. In some cases, the contrast dye can cause kidney damage. People with kidney disease are more likely to have kidney damage after contrast exposure.

There may be other risks, depending on your specific health condition. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.

How do I get ready for CT enterography?

  • Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you have.

  • You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully. Ask questions if anything is not clear.

  • Let your healthcare provider know about any recent infections or illnesses, as well as any long-term (chronic) conditions that you have. These include diabetes, asthma, heart disease, thyroid problems, and kidney disease.

  • Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before the procedure.

  • You may wear a gown during CT enterography, but you should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes the day of the procedure.

  • Remember to remove all jewelry and other metal objects. Ask whether you need to remove any hearing aids and metal dental devices that can be taken out.

What happens during CT enterography?

  • Before the test, you will need to drink a few glasses of liquid over the course of about an hour. The liquid includes a contrast solution that will help the radiologist better see your small intestine on the CT scan.

  • After you have finished drinking the contrast liquid solution, you will be helped to lie on a table, probably on your back. Pillows or straps may be used to help keep you in the correct position and prevent movement during the procedure.

  • If a contrast material will be used, you may be asked to drink it or it may be given through an IV line or enema (this is rare). If you are asked to drink the contrast material, you may feel some abdominal fullness. If the contrast material is given through an IV line, you may feel a warm, flushing sensation and a metallic taste. These feelings usually last only a minute or two.

  • As you lie on the table, it will slowly move through the CT scanning machine to capture the X-ray images.

  • You will likely be asked to hold your breath for brief periods while the machine is scanning. The procedure is painless, but you will have to lie still for a period of time. This could be uncomfortable for some people.

What happens after CT enterography?

The CT enterography procedure doesn’t cause any lasting side effects. You won’t need recovery time because the test doesn’t require any incisions or sedation. You can resume your regular activities as soon as the procedure is completed. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding about whether to delay breastfeeding.

A radiologist will review your test results and send them to your healthcare provider. You will then have a follow-up phone call or visit with your healthcare provider to discuss the results and next steps.

Next steps

Before you agree to the test or the procedure, make sure you know:

  • The name of the test or procedure

  • The reason you are having the test or procedure

  • What results to expect and what they mean

  • The risks and benefits of the test or procedure

  • What the possible side effects or complications are

  • When and where you are to have the test or procedure

  • Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are

  • What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure

  • Any alternative tests or procedures to think about

  • When and how you will get the results

  • Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems

  • How much you will have to pay for the test or procedure

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
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