How a CT Scanner Works

When patients receive scripts for a CT scan, they rarely take a minute to stop and marvel at how much the technology will benefit them. This diagnostic imaging technique has become so commonplace that it’s difficult to imagine the medical world functioning without it. Aside from knowing that the procedure helps doctors learn more about a patient’s insides, how much does the average person know about this innovation that brings experts highly precise multi-dimensional images?

What is a CT scan?

This diagnostic process can be referred to as either computed tomography (CT) or computed axial tomography (CAT). It uses a special kind of X-ray machine called a CT scanner. However, this tool does not just send a single X-ray through the patient’s body. Instead, it simultaneously sends several X-ray beams from varying angles.

So, what does a CT scan show?

A CT scan allows doctors to take a look inside a patient’s body. The combination of X-rays and computers helps create accurate images of a patient’s organs, bones, and even tissues. All in all, a CT scan provides a more precise and detailed picture than a regular X-ray. Nowadays, CT scanners have even gone portable with the introduction of the mobile CT scanner to aid medical experts anywhere at any time.

How does a CT scan work?

To produce images from several different angles of a particular body part, a CT scan uses a narrow X-ray beam that then circles around the specific section to be assessed. Once the images are gathered, a computer generates a cross-sectional picture based on the information. The result is a two-dimensional or 2D scan of a “slice” of the inside of the patient’s body. The same procedure is repeated to create a specific number of slices, which are then stacked together to simulate an accurate image of the patient’s organs or bones.

CT Scan Uses

There are numerous use cases for CT scans. The following are the most common applications of this diagnostic imaging tool:

  • Examine any internal or bone injury a patient may have incurred from a vehicular accident or trauma.
  • Diagnose potential spinal injury or skeletal problems.
  • Determine if a patient is at risk or suffering from osteoporosis.
  • Identify the type of cancer a patient has and assess how far the tumor may have spread.
  • Locate infections.
  • Determine the locations of stroke-causing clots, possible hemorrhaging, and other head injuries.
  • Locate blood clots in the lungs’ vessels and other pulmonary diseases.
  • Identify the causes of abdominal or even chest pains and discomfort as well as understand the reason for breathing difficulties.
  • Guide surgeons in procedures like biopsies.
  • Assist doctors in coming up with effective treatment programs for patients of organ transplants and gastric bypass.

Final thoughts

The CT scan has revolutionized the medical world as it equipped doctors with the capacity to see and diagnose diseases that could only be discovered in surgeries or autopsies in the past. Because it’s a non-invasive and safe procedure, this technology is readily available to virtually anyone. With the increasing popularity of artificial intelligence among radiologists, it remains to be seen how far CT scanners will go in the future.

Author’s Bio:

Scott has been working in the radiology field for over 30 years. He finds the biological phenomenons found in humankind fascinating and appreciates the incredible use that diagnostic imagery has to save lives. Other than acting as the President for Catalina Imaging, Scott enjoys spreading the word on new insights and breakthroughs in the radiology field, specifically the impact that mobile imaging has for patient care.