Health Encyclopedia

CT Enterography

What is computed tomography (CT) enterography?

CT enterography is an imaging test that uses CT imagery and a contrast material to view inside the small intestine. The procedure allows your doctor to determine what is causing your condition. He or she 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, CT enterography is able to provide detailed images of tissue and structures, such as bone and blood vessels.

Why might I need CT enterography?

This test is typically done to find:

  • Inflammation
  • Tumors
  • Bowel obstructions or abscesses
  • The source of bleeding

What are the risks of CT enterography?

CT enterography uses X-ray technology, so there is minimal risk of radiation exposure. Talk with your doctor about this risk.

You should let your doctor know if you have any allergies, particularly if you have had an allergic reaction to contrast materials or dyes before.

If you are pregnant or think that you may be pregnant, tell your doctor.

There may be other risks, depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor before the procedure.

How do I get ready for CT enterography?

  • Be sure to let your doctor know about any recent infections or illnesses, as well as any chronic conditions that you have, such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, thyroid problems, and kidney disease.
  • You will be asked to stop eating and drinking about four hours 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, and 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 the contrast material that will help the radiologist better see the inside of your small intestine on the CT scan. Instead of drinking a contrast solution, you may have it given by enema.
  • After you have finished drinking the contrast liquid solution, you will lie on a table, probably on your back. 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, which 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 no incisions or sedation. You can resume your regular activities as soon as the procedure is completed.

A radiologist will review your test results and send them to your doctor. You will then have a follow-up phone call or visit with your doctor 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
  • The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
  • When and where you are to have the test or procedure and who will do it
  • When and how will you get the results
  • How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure

Medical Reviewers:

  • Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
  • MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician