Computed tomography (CT) enterography uses special X-ray equipment and an injection of contrast material. Contrast is injected after the ingestion of liquid to produce detailed images of the small intestine and structures within the abdomen and pelvis. Small bowel enterography is often used to identify and locate problems within the bowel, such as inflammation, bleeding, obstructions and Crohn’s disease. CT scanning is fast, painless, noninvasive and accurate. CT enterography is better able to visualize the entire thickness of the bowel wall than other small intestine imaging procedures.

What should I expect during my small bowel enterography exam?

Prior to the procedure, you will be asked to drink several glasses of a liquid solution that contains a contrast material. The total amount of fluid you will need to drink is approximately 1 to 1.5 liters.

  • Inform your doctor if you think you will not be able to drink this amount of contrast.
  • You will drink the contrast material over a period of approximately one hour in order to fill the long small intestine. The fluid expands the small bowel so that we can see abnormalities better. If contrast material is used, it will be swallowed, injected through an intravenous line (IV) or, rarely, administered by enema, depending on the type of exam.

The technologist positions you on the CT examination table, usually lying flat on your back.

  • We may use straps and pillows to help keep you still and maintain the correct position.

Next, the table will move quickly through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for the scans. Then, the table will move slowly through the machine as the actual CT scanning is performed. Depending on the type of CT scan, the machine may make several passes.

How do I prepare for my small bowel enterography exam?

Before your exam

Your doctor may order blood work before your exam if you are:

  • Over 60 years of age and IV contrast will be used for the exam.
  • Over 60 years of age, diabetic, or have kidney disease.

On the day of your exam

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure.
  • Remove bras containing metal underwire. You may be asked to remove any piercings, if possible.
  • Do not eat or drink anything except water for four hours prior to the procedure.
  • Inform your physician of current medications or known allergies. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction, or order a different test.
  • Inform your doctor of recent illnesses or other medical conditions, and if you have a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems. Any of these conditions may increase the risk of an unusual adverse effect.
  • Inform your physician and CT technologist if there is any possibility you are pregnant. If there is a chance of being pregnant, a pregnancy test should be done prior to the exam.

Scheduling and Authorization

If your provider orders a CT exam, we will contact you to schedule your appointment.

CT exams require a pre-authorization form from your insurance company. If you elect to have the CT exam without this pre-authorization, there will be a deposit required at the time of study. You may be responsible for the full balance after your insurance has been billed. If you have questions regarding your insurance coverage or benefits, please contact your insurance company directly.

  • For general questions about CT scans at The Polyclinic, please call 206-329-1760.


The Polyclinic's CT Department is proud to be recognized as an Accredited CT Facility by the American College of Radiology.mri