When your doctor suspects you’ve broken a bone or there’s another issue going on that requires diagnostic testing, an X-ray might be ordered. Sometimes, however, your doctor will request that additional images be taken using a CT scan.
Why is this? And, why aren’t X-rays always enough? Those are questions patients looking for answers to their medical concerns often wonder. After all, if you’re not feeling good, chances are you’re ready for a solution and you’re tired of tests.
There are a number of reasons why a CT scan is ordered instead of simple X-rays or in addition to them. In the case of the broken bone, for example, an X-ray may not be fine-tuned enough to actually detect a hairline fracture. When this is the case, a break can go untreated and that might lead to further damage down the road.
So, why is a CT scan better in this case and others? There are a few reasons.
A CT scan is taken in much the same manner as an X-ray. This is a fast, painless procedure that provides doctors with a better look at what is going on inside the body. Instead of the bone-only view provided by an X-ray, a CT scan enables images to be taken from a variety of angles. The end result is a final picture that’s more comprehensive, clear, cross sectioned, and includes soft tissue as well as bone matter.
In short, a CT scan can “see” more than an X-ray can. That means it can enable your doctor to more accurately diagnose problems, such as those pesky hairline fractures.
If your doctor has ordered a CT scan versus a traditional X-ray, just relax. This procedure generally only takes a few minutes and can reveal a whole lot. If he or she has ordered imaging with “contrast” there’s also no cause for alarm. That just means a tracer dye will be injected into your veins before imaging so the pictures show up all the more clearly.
When it’s time for an in-depth look inside the body, CT imaging often provides exactly what doctors need. If this test has been ordered, it could be the one that provides the answers you seek.