If a doctor orders a CT scan to track a condition or help diagnose one, there’s no cause for alarm. This very standard procedure is fast, painless and provides a look inside the body that is much more detailed than a standard X-ray.
CT scans, or computerized tomography, enable doctors to create an image of the inside of the body using information that is obtained from the outside. The test combines a series of X-rays taken from different angles to produce a more complete, cross sectional look inside. CT scans are highly useful for producing images of bones, blood vessels and even soft tissue. A fracture of the bone that a single X-ray may not pick up, for example, can often be detected by a CT scan.
CT scans are used in both emergency and non-emergency situations. In some cases, this test proves to be a lifesaver. Doctors, for example, often request CT scans following serious accidents to confirm or deny internal injury or trauma. This type of test may also be used to help doctors plan out medical treatments, surgeries or radiation treatment when cancer has been diagnosed.
Undergoing a CT scan is pretty simple for patients. The test only requires patients to lie down on a table that is slowly moved through a doughnut-shaped tunnel. The machine takes pictures as the table moves, enabling those images that provide a better look inside the body. CT scans may be performed using contrast agents, which are radioactive tracers that light up areas of concern. Depending on the test being performed, contrast may be added through injection, by mouth or by enema.
If a CT scan has been ordered by a doctor, there’s no cause for alarm. This simple test is fast and painless. Its results can prove invaluable in helping doctors treat conditions like broken bones, internal injuries and even cancer.