CT luminal contrast (summary)

Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

Luminal contrast can be given to patients to improve the diagnostic accuracy of a CT examination. Modern scanners are much quicker and more sensitive and oral contrast is no longer routinely required. Despite this, some centres will continue to use oral contrast for some examinations.


In days gone by, oral contrast was always given to patients who had a CT abdomen. The improved quality of images acquired by modern CT scanners means that additional luminal contrast is used much less frequently

Oral or rectal contrast may be used in some situations, especially where the clinical question is about perforation or a leak following surgery. Rectal contrast in a patient who has recently had colon surgery increases the sensitivity of the test for picking up leak.

In some patients, it is helpful to give a neutral contrast agent, e.g. water, to distend the bowel and make it easier to see bowel wall. This is particularly helpful if the question is about ischaemia.

Medical student radiology curriculum
Share article

Article Information

rID: 47276
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.

Alert accept

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.