Computed tomography (CT) is a form of medical imaging used to examine the inside of the body. It’s an alternative to traditional X-rays, which are often less accurate at detecting small abnormalities. This new technology uses CT scanners that rotate around your body and create cross-sectional images to get a detailed view of many different areas within the body.
This article will provide information on CT scans and how it’s used to help diagnose medical conditions:
How Does This Machine Work?
CT scanners use X-rays to create images. The X-ray machine rotates around you, sending radiation beams from many different angles through your body. As the radiation passes through your body, it is absorbed by various tissues in different amounts. This causes some parts of you to appear lighter than others in the final image. Denser tissues, such as bones and teeth, will absorb more radiation than soft organs like the liver or lungs.
As the beams pass through your body, they are detected by a detector that records their energy levels and converts them into electrical signals that are then processed by a computer to create an image of what’s inside you.
Preparing for Your CT Scan
- Don’t eat or drink anything for at least 2–4 hours before your test.
- Don’t wear any metal objects, including jewellery, watches and dentures.
- Don’t take any medication containing iodine (thyroid disease medication), sedatives or muscle relaxants.
- If you’re taking a diuretic (water pill), stop taking it 24 hours before the test unless directed otherwise by your doctor, who may prescribe another type of diuretic instead.
- If you’ve had X-rays in the past few weeks and have not been informed about how long to wait after X-ray exposure for the CT scan, ask your doctor when you can next have it performed.
- If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your doctor if it’s safe to have a CT scan.
Who Goes Through This Type of Test?
The answer is anyone. The CT scan is a great test to use when you need to see inside the body, especially if you want to look at areas that are hard to access. If a patient has disease symptoms, and an MRI doesn’t seem appropriate for them because of their condition or age, they should have a CT scan instead.
- Chest pain patients who are suspected of having heart disease or lung cancer.
- Patients with abdominal pain need surgery but cannot get it immediately.
- Detects cancer in patients that have spread to other body parts.
- Patients with a head injury need to see if they have brain bleeding.
- Patients who are being treated for osteoporosis because CT scans can show if there is any damage to bones or tissue.
Benefits of CT Scan
- CT scans can diagnose various conditions, including heart disease, lung cancer and many other diseases.
- They are fast, accurate and safe.
- Most patients can undergo a CT scan without side effects or complications after the exam.
- They are especially useful in diagnosing hard-to-find conditions. For instance, they can detect cancerous tumours that aren’t visible on an MRI or ultrasound.
Considering all the information that CT scans can provide, it’s no wonder they are so popular. If you have questions about CT scans for patients, talk to your doctor or another healthcare provider. They will be able to help you understand what kind of test might be right for your condition and explain how often it should be done.