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Putting It All Together: CT Scan
Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to CT scan.
- Computed Tomography (CT), also known as Computed Axial Tomography (CAT), is a painless, sophisticated x-ray procedure that uses a computer to provide images of soft tissue, bone, and blood vessels.
- CT imaging is considered a safe examination. While CT does involve x-rays, the diagnostic benefits are usually considered to outweigh the risks of x-ray exposure or injections of contrast agents (or use of sedatives) during the procedure.
- CT combines a computer and a rotating x-ray device to create detailed cross-sectional images, or “slices” of organs and body parts.
- CT scanning has the unique ability to image a combination of soft tissue, bone, and blood vessels. Among all the other available imaging techniques, it is one of the best tools for studying the lungs and abdomen. It is also invaluable in cancer diagnosis, and is the preferred method for diagnosing lung, liver, and pancreatic cancer.
- The newest “multi-slice” spiral CT scanners can collect as much as eight times more data than previous state-of-the-art spiral CT scanners.
- In general, no special preparation is required for a CT scan. Comfortable, loose clothing should be worn, and any articles of clothing or jewelry that might degrade the images, such as earrings, glasses, dentures, belts, etc., should be removed.
- Many CT examinations require the oral or intravenous administration of a harmless
contrast agent, a liquid that enhances imaging of certain organs or blood vessels.
- Contrast agents for CT examinations are administered in three different ways:
- Intravenous injection
- Oral administration
- Rectal administration
- A relatively uncommon type of contrast that consists of a gas that is used for special lung and brain imaging. The technique is called Xenon CT and is only available at a small number of locations worldwide. It is used only for rare cases.
- It is very important to lie completely still during a CT examination while the scanner is taking images.