While most people are accustomed to doctors ordering X-rays to check for broken bones or other abnormalities in the body, not everyone is as familiar with CT scan technology. This imaging technology, also known as computerized tomography, is designed to give physicians a much clearer look inside the body than a standard X-ray can produce.
CT scans, also called CAT scans by some, are similar to X-rays. The images, for example, are taken of the body in much the same way an X-ray is performed. The resulting look inside the body, however, is greatly enhanced courtesy of CT technology because this process involves the creation of images that may be taken from a wide variety of angles. The end result is a cross-sectioned, comprehensive look inside the body that includes clear representations not only the bones, but also soft tissue, as well.
CT scans are ordered in addition to or in place for standard X-rays when doctors believe the diagnostic process will benefit from a clearer picture. While a suspected broken bone, for example, might still call for an X-ray, other conditions are more readily visible using CT technology.
So, what can a CT scan help doctors determine?
Here are just a few things doctors may order CT scans to help them diagnose or rule out:
• Cardiovascular disease – Courtesy of this type of scan’s greater insights, doctors can more readily see if blockage or other problems are present. These scans can lead to earlier detection and life-saving treatments.
• Cancer – While a tumor might not show up on an X-ray, and likely won’t, certain cancers are highly visible using CT technology. This can lead to earlier treatment, which is crucial in many cases.
• Infection, inflammation, internal trauma – An X-ray cannot show soft tissue that’s swollen or possibly infected. It also cannot reveal internal bleeding. CT scans can detect these types of problems quickly, leading to more accurate diagnosis and treatment.
• Musculoskeletal disorders – CT scans are also used to help doctors get more in-depth insights about the bones and bone health. They can be especially useful for diagnosing disorders in the musculoskeletal system that standard X-rays may not reveal.
When a doctor orders a CT scan, it simply means there’s a need to take a more in-depth look inside the body. These scans are similar to X-rays, but reveal so much more.