Computed Tomography (CT), sometimes called “CAT scanning,” uses special x-ray equipment to obtain image data from different angles around the body, and then uses computer processing of the information to show a cross-section of body tissues and organs.
When is CT Used?
CT is particularly useful as it can show several types of tissue: lung, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels with great clarity. Using specialized equipment and expertise to create and interpret CT scans of the body, radiologists can more easily diagnose cancers, cardiovascular and infectious diseases, and trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.
CT of the body is a patient-friendly exam with little radiation exposure. CT exams are often used to plan and properly administer radiation treatments for tumors, and to guide biopsies and other minimally invasive procedures.
How are CT's Performed?
The technologist begins by positioning you on the CT table. Your body may be supported by pillows to help you hold still and in the proper position during the procedure. As the study proceeds, the table will move slowly into the opening of the CT scanner. A CT exam often requires the use of different contrast materials to enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels. The contrast material may be injected into your blood stream, and/or given orally depending on the type of exam.
What Will I Experience During the Exam?
CT scanning causes no pain. For different parts of the body your preparation will be different. You may be asked to swallow a liquid contrast material that allows the radiologist to better see the stomach, small bowel, and colon. Often times a contrast material is injected into a vein to better define the blood vessels and kidneys, and to accentuate the appearance between normal and abnormal tissue in organs such as the liver and spleen.