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A CT Scan is a special kind of X-ray study that can produce computer images of a part of the body. CT stands for computed tomography. It is also known as a C.A.T. scan, which stands for computerized axial tomography.
CT Scans help detect conditions that regular X-ray stsudies can't, including tumors and blood clots. CT Scans also help check progress during or after treatment.
The procedure is relatively safe and painless and can often replace other diagnostic procedures, such as exploratory surgery.
How CT scans work:
- Beam- An X-ray tube focuses a narrow beam of X-rays across 1 section or "slice" of the body. The X-ray's energy is absorbed differently by structures of different density.
- Receptor- Receptors, located opposite the X-ray tube, detect the number of X-rays remaining (after the X-rays have passed through the body). This information is relayed to a computer and stored there.
- Rotation- The X-ray tube rotates around the body, "scanning" it. Thousands of readings are taken by the receptors and recorded in the computer.
- Computer- The computer analyzes the receptor's readings and calculates X-ray absorption at thousands of different points. The calculations are converted to an image on a video screen.
- Image- The radiologist can study the image and determine if more tests are needed. This image may be photographed or stored on video tape.
Before you have a CT scan, consider the risks and benefits. Chances are, once you've talked things over, you'll agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
- Radiation- As with any X-ray, radiation is a risk. However, CT scans offer the most information with the least possible radiation exposure.
- Greater Accuracy- CT scans may give more detailed results than other diagnostic procedures.
- Earlier Detection- CT scans can often detect abnormalities early, when chances for recovery are greater.
- Relatively safe and painless-CT scans are relatively safe and only expose the patient to minor, temporary discomfort.