Generally speaking, when you are asked to do a CT scan, there is really no threat involved. It is a safe procedure that has been around for many years. Although it uses radiation in order to obtain detailed images used by doctors for diagnosis and monitoring, it does not mean you will get huge doses. The amount is minimal.
However, since it also uses magnetic fields, you are not supposed to get one if you have metallic implants in your body as it could be moved around or get stuck. Those who have undergone CT scans have not complained of any side effects or serious problems after it is over.
Some might have felt a bit scared especially with the idea of being alone in a room while being tested. Others also felt conscious as they were asked to strip off and only wear a hospital gown. These are not serious issues though and were easily overcome by the patients.
CT scan with contrast
The only time when a CT scan could potentially have a side effect is when a contrast is used. It is a special dye used to make the images clearer. Soft tissues that have to be scanned need dye for clarity. Otherwise, the physician will have a hard time looking at the image and could even misdiagnose the patient. This dye is usually made of iodine or barium sulphate.
To place the dye in the body, it can be injected directly into the vein. This is used to clarify the images for blood vessels, livers and gallbladders. It can also be taken orally with a liquid to enhance the images for digestion related organs. If the intestines are to be scanned, the dye could be inserted in your rectum.
Once the scan is over, you will be required to drink lots of water. This helps the kidneys flush the dye out of your body instantly.
Some people have reported allergies because of the contrast materials. However, the reaction is really mild. There might be a bit of itchiness but nothing serious. There are rarely cases in which it becomes life-threatening. You have to be honest though in telling your care provider that you have had an issue with the same substance before, so it won’t be used on you, or the quantity can be adjusted. People with diabetes and heart diseases are also not allowed to have this dye in their body.
Aside from the dye, CT scans are safe. Research shows that the ionising radiation produced by X-rays used in CT scans may lead to DNA damage causing cancer. However, this is a very minimal risk and nothing to be worried about. The recorded cases in the past were just 1 in 2,000 CT scans.
You should have a private scan in London if you were asked to do so, in order to get immediate treatment.