Most facilities use some brand of barium-based oral contrast for CT scans. These all come pre-packaged in a sealed bottle. They are thick, opaque liquids that you drink prior to the scan. Several brands and flavors exist, so you may have a choice of flavor (banana, etc.)
Some facilities use this type contrast for all patients, but at all facilities it may be specifically ordered by a doctor for an individual patient. Brands include Gastrografin. This type contrast is a watery liquid that comes in a small bottle which you mix with another liquid (such as gingerale) before drinking. Here is a link to FDA information about gastrografin.
Tips for Drinking Barium-Based CT Contrast
NEVER SMELL IT. Drink through a straw from a closed container.
ICE COLD. Refrigerate long enough to chill it thoroughly.
BERRY FLAVOR (ask for this one)
ADD A FEW DROPS OF BLOOD ORANGE OR SWEET ORANGE ESSENTIAL OIL. (Keep your nose plugged, or ask someone to add this for you.)
DRINK IT AS FAST AS POSSIBLE (gulp, stop, gulp some more) because it's the aftertaste that gets you the most, so try to avoid stopping.
Remember to take water with you to the appointment and start drinking it as soon as you leave. Drink lots of water for the next several hours to flush the barium out.
Tips for Preventing Constipation and Sluggishness from the Barium Contrast
"After five of years of CAT scans (every six months), I finally decided that I couldn't wish away the bloated, uncomfortable feeling I always experienced the day of my scan and for a day or two afterwards. I decided to check with Julie and G.G., the technician who performs my scans. Ok, here you have it...the miracle "cure". After my scan, I drank plenty of water, ate SmartFood white cheddar cheese popcorn (maybe the preservatives??) and made a delicious meal of whole wheat pasta, diced tomatoes with garlic, onion, and spices, and cooked spinach. Voila! I actually had a great weekend and felt well. Thanks, ladies!"