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Computed tomography or CT Scaning

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What is CT scanning?

Computed tomography or CT refers to an imaging procedure, where in cross-sectional pictures of a part of the body or a specific organ (such as the brain or heart) is created using X-rays. This procedure is also called computed axial tomography (CAT) scan.

How does CT scanning work?

The CT scanning machine uses the regular X-rays to take multiple images of the same organ or a part at various angles to create individual images know as slices. These slices can then be studied individually or combined together to create two dimensional (2D) or three dimensional (3D) images to give an accurate picture of the part being studied. The recent CT scanners known as multi-slice scanners are one of the high-end machines that give accurate images in a very short span of time.1,2

When is CT scanning advised?

With the advent of newer methodologies CT scans are advised for a wide variety of conditions that may affect any part of the body from head to toe. The CT scanning is advised widely for studying and identifying any abnormalities in the region of the skull, chest and abdomen.

Commonly CT scanning is used to:

  • Detect any tumours (cancerous or non-cancerous) in the body.
  • Detect any abnormalities in the blood vessels.
  • Detect collection of fluid within the brain or other regions of the skull.
  • Detect any blocks in the blood vessels supplying the heart (coronary angiography).
  • Identify hairline fractures, collection of fluid in the spaces around the bones.
  • Evaluate certain disorders such as kidney stones (renal calculi), appendicitis, and other disorders of the chest and abdomen.2–4


What is the preparation required for CT scanning?

There are no specific preparations required for CT scanning. However, in certain cases a dye will be used to enhance the image of the organ involved. One may be advised not to eat or drink anything 4–6 h prior to the scan. Individuals with any conditions such as pregnancy, kidney disorders or allergies should inform the doctor prior to the procedure. The individual undergoing the scanning is advised to take off all the jewellery and other metallic objects and wear a gown. If a dye is required, then it may be: injected through a vein, given as a drink or instilled through the rectum based on the part or organ being scanned. The individual is required to lie on the table, which moves gradually into the scanning machine and the individual should lie still until the scanning is completed.

What are the complications of CT scanning?

In most of the cases CT scanning is not associated with any adverse effects. In certain cases where dye is used it may cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. The dosage of radiation used in CT scanners do not cause harm to the body, as the duration of radiation is minimal.

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Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: December 27,2008

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