CT scans, or ‘CAT scans,” produce highly detailed X-ray images of your body to reveal numerous health issues.
Computed tomography (CT) is a diagnostic procedure sometimes called computed axial tomography or “CAT scan”.
CT scans use X-rays to produce 2D cross-section images of the body’s bones, soft tissues and blood vessels, or slices.
Using a computer, these images can be “stacked” to create 3D models of specific body parts.
Unlike traditional X-ray imaging technology, which uses a fixed X-ray source, CT scanners use a motorized X-ray source that rotates around the body, allowing for more detailed images.
CT Scan Uses
Physicians may order CT scans:
Examine internal and bone injuries from car accidents or other trauma
Diagnose spinal cord injuries and skeletal injuries
Detect different types of cancer and determine the extent (spread) of the tumor
Look for head injuries, paralysis, hemorrhage and other problems
Picture the lungs to show blood clots in the blood vessels of the lungs, excess fluid, pneumonia and chronic pulmonary obstruction disease (COPD)
Determine the causes of chest or abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms
Diagnose dangerous vascular diseases that can lead to stroke, kidney failure and death
In addition, CT scans are used to assist in biopsy and other medical procedures, and to assist in organ transplantation, gastric bypass, and cancer treatment planning.
CT Scan Procedure
The procedure begins with you lying on a narrow table that goes in and out of the CT scanner.
The X-ray source and X-ray detector are located on the opposite side of the scanner’s ring, or gantry.
During the scan, the gator rotates around you, sometimes as you go through the scanner’s tunnel.
The source sends an X-ray through your body, which is picked up by the detectors and translated into a computer image.
Your doctor can use a special dye (called a contrast dye) to help visualize these parts of the body during the test to create a soft tissue image, which can be difficult to see.
Contrast can be inged, administered via IV, or administered regularly with enemas.
CT Scan Risks
Some people, on the other hand, are allergic to pigment ingredients, resulting in nausea and vomiting, sneezing, itching, or hives.
There may be anaphylaxis, a fatal allergic reaction, or kidney failure.
Also, CT scans produce far more ionizing radiation than conventional X-rays.
A single abdominal scan, for example, provides 400 times the radiation of a single chest X-ray, according to the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
Rare complications of this radiation include:
Increased risk of cancer
Redness of the skin and tissue injury
If birth defects are used during pregnancy.