Computed Tomography (CT)
Computed tomography (CT), also known as Computed Axial Tomography (CAT), is a painless, sophisticated x-ray procedure. Multiple images are taken during a CT or CAT scan, and a computer compiles them into complete, cross-sectional pictures ("slices") of soft tissue, bone, and blood vessels. A CT scan obtains images of parts of the body that cannot be seen on a standard x-ray. Therefore, these scans often result in earlier diagnosis and more successful treatment of many diseases.
A CT scan is considered to be a safe examination. While CT imaging does involve x-rays, the diagnostic benefits generally outweigh the risks of x-ray (radiation) exposure. CT uses 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 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.
For many CT examinations, a contrast agent will be administered. Depending on the type of examination, the contrast may be given orally, intravenously, or as an enema. If certain types of contrast will be used during an examination, the patient may be required to fast for several hours or use an enema to cleanse the colon prior to the appointment.