Jefferson University Hospitals

Preparing for Your Visit

If you decide to receive your radiation therapy at the Bodine Center for Radiation Therapy/Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, you'll need to know about registration and the CT simulation process.

After your consultation appointment, talk with your physician to schedule your CT simulation treatment planning procedure. If you need to reach your physician, call 215-955-6702.

You should plan to be at the Bodine Center for your CT simulation appointment for approximately one to three hours.

A CT simulation is a specialized CT scan that helps your physician know where your tumor is located. Contrast or dye may or may not be given before your CT simulation.

The CT scan you will receive during your simulation is different than a diagnostic CT scan, because it is used specifically by your radiation therapy team to create a treatment plan that is customized just for you.

About the Registration Process

  • When you arrive for your CT simulation appointment, you will come to the front desk in the Bodine Center for Radiation Therapy.
  • The front desk staff will direct you to the registrar, who will record your insurance information, collect referrals (if required) and co-payments at this time.
  • After the registrar receives all the information we need, you will be directed to take the elevator to the 'B' level for your CT simulation appointment.
  • When you arrive on the 'B' level, you will go to the reception area.
  • The receptionist on the 'B' level will verify your name and date of birth.
  • A barcode will printed for you, which you will need to bring to ALL of your radiation therapy appointments. This barcode is used for identification purposes.
  • After the receptionist hands you your barcode, you will be given your changing instructions, shown the changing area and then directed to the nurses' station.

About CT Simulation

  • After you've arrived at the nurses' station, a nurse will ask for your name and date of birth.
  • At this time, the nurse will check if your consent for radiation treatments is signed. If not, the nurse will call your physician to explain the consent and ask for your signature.
  • If you have questions about your radiation treatment, you may be able to speak with your physician before your CT simulation appointment.
  • After your signature on the consent form is verified, the radiation therapists will greet you, ask your name and date of birth and escort you to the CT treatment planning room.
  • A digital picture will be taken of your face for identification purposes.
  • Sometimes, your physician will give the therapist an order to make a positioning or custom mold for you. This will be used during your daily treatments. If a device is needed, the therapist will make it at this time and explain how it is made and why it is being used.
  • Sometimes additional therapy team members may be called in to check the positioning device. The therapist will introduce these team members to you.
  • The therapist will help position you on the CT table.
  • If your physician requires you to have a CT scan with contrast, you will be given a questionnaire to see if you can have the dye. Contrast is dye that is used to show the physician where the tumor is located.
  • The therapist will tell you when the CT scan is ready to start. It is quick and painless. 
  • Afterwards, photos will be taken of the treatment area and small marks will be made on your body to identify the area of treatment. These photos and marks ensure the therapist will position you correctly for your daily treatments.
  • Next, the therapist will help you off of the CT table.
  • If you have any questions, the therapist or your physician will be able to answer them for you.
  • The therapist will then work with you to schedule your next appointment, which will be a trial run of your treatment plan. This trial run is also called port filming.
  • The trial run appointment is made for certain times on specific days, depending on your physician's schedule.
  • Between your CT simulation and trial run appointment, your radiation therapy team members work together to create a personalized treatment plan for you.
  • In most cases, after your trial run is complete and approved by your physician, you will schedule your regular treatment appointment time with your therapists.
  • If anything at all is unclear to you, please ask our staff and they will do their best to answer your questions.

Modern CT scans are fast studies. The actual imaging usually takes only a few minutes but the entire procedure takes much longer. Most studies take 30 minutes or less.  You will need to be still during the study, because motion blurs the images. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds.

Recommendations for standard studies, including routine abdomen and pelvis exams:

  • Eat your regular diet until 4 hours before your scan.
  • Tell your doctor if you are allergic to x-ray contrast dye, have kidney problems, are diabetic, or may be pregnant. Tell us again when you arrive.
  • For studies using intravenous contrast it is important to be well hydrated, so continue to drink clear fluids up until the time of the examination.
    It is also important to drink more fluids after the examination to maintain hydration.
  • Keep taking any medications prescribed by your doctor.
  • Wear comfortable loose clothes.
  • Metal jewelry, clips, etc can affect image quality, so you may be asked to remove such items before the scan. You may be asked to wear a hospital gown.
  • For most abdominal and pelvic studies, you will be asked to drink oral contrast. This needs time to pass through your intestines, so you will have to wait a period of time before the study can be done. Some people find the contrast mildly unpleasant, but most have no trouble drinking it.

On the day of your exam

  • No caffeine on the day of the exam (i.e. coffee, tea, soda).
  • No solid food for 4 hours prior to the study.
  • You may drink non-caffeinated fluids until 1 hour prior to examination.
  • Your referring physician may prescribe an oral beta blocker (i.e. Metoprolol, 50 mg) to be taken 2 hours prior to the examination. Waiting time will be minimized if you take a beta blocker prior to arriving for the examination
  • Clear liquids 4 hours prior to arriving for your CT exam.
  • You can take all medication as usual.
  • Please arrive 1.5 hours prior to your appointment time for registration and for the administration of oral contrast.
  • There are no post instructions after the CT study. You can eat and drink accordingly.

On the day of your CT scan:

  • You are allowed to eat and drink. Fluids are encouraged.
  • Depending on the reason for your exam, you may be given oral contrast upon arrival.