CDI Miami | Friday November 22, 2013

What Is a CT Scan?


What do we understand by CT/CAT screening test?


CT scans also termed as computer tomography, is an imaging test that involves taking the circular images of the body and then produces what a picture on the computer that looks like a slice through the body.


Now if we try to understand what a CAT scan is and how it is different from a CT scan then, a CAT scan stands for computer axial tomography which is an exactly similar to a CT scan. The images that are acquired through a CT/ CAT scan are taken in a special plane that is axial plane which gave CT scan another name i.e. CAT scans. In other words we can say that CAT scan involves taking of images axially and tomography means slices of the body.


Let us take a clear look at the complete procedure, preparation and the benefits of the CT scan.


How the physician conducts the test?


The CT scan is a screening test that can used for diagnosis’s of different types of pathology that includes taking detailed images of vascular bones or images that gives information regarding the soft tissues present in the body. Let us understand how the CT scan machine operates:


    • The patients are instructed to lie down on the machine that is in the shape of a big doughnut that is opened from both the sides. The table on which the patient’s lay slowly moves into the tunnel shaped machine.


    • The machine consists of an X- ray emitter that is at an angle of 180 degrees from the receiver for the same. Now the emitter and the receiver move simultaneously. The X-rays emitted are received at many points by the receiver, until it creates a perfect circle.


    • Sometime there is a possibility that images that are obtained through in the first round are not perfect. In such a condition the emitter moves again.


  • These series of rotation around the body creates multiple images that are termed as slices which are and then stacks together so as to provide the physician with a three dimensional anatomical imagery for the concerned body part.


What are the preparations that should be done by the patient before going for a test?


To make CT/CAT Scan a simple procedure for the patient it is necessary that radiologist provide them with the complete set of instructions which are necessary to be implemented by them while going through a test. The preparations that should be done by the patient side are mentioned below:


    • Information regarding the medical conditions:

      Providing the doctor with complete information regarding the medical conditions such as pregnancy, allergies or any recent surgical procedure that can make you ineligible for the test is one of the most essential steps that should be pursued by each patient prior to the test.


    • Following a proper diet before the test:

      Patients are advised by the doctor’s to avoid intake of any solid food before the test. The patients are kept on a strict liquid diet for at least four hours before the test is performed. Sometime there is also a possibility that you will be required to come with an empty stomach at the diagnostic center. This main depends on the condition of the person.


    • Wear comfortable clothing:

      Patients are advised to wear cloths which are loose and comfortable. Sometime patients are instructed to put on a hospital gown before they go for a scan.


    • Removal of any accessory:

      Patients are strictly advised by the radiologists to remove all of their jewelry whether it is a watch, key, earring, clips, dentures or any other thing that can affect the reliability of the scan.


  • Contrast agent:

    The contrast agents that are used by the diagnostic center are the one that has been specified by the patient’s doctor. The contrast agent may vary with the body part that needs to be scanned using CT/CAT scan.


What are the Benefits of CT/CAT scan over other screening tests?


Comparing a CT scan with an X-rays:


X- Ray is a two dimensional image that involves passing of a high electromagnetic radiation through the patient’s body that helps in projecting an image on an X-Ray film. Whereas a CT scan can be used as a three dimensional imaging test. A CT scan is used to demonstrate the working of the soft tissues in the body that cannot be viewed on an X-Ray. The X-ray takes just one image which sometimes doesn’t provide the complete information. In such a situation a CT scan provides to be useful as it takes images in the form of slices and provide a detailed picture of the body parts.


Comparing CT scans with Ultrasound:


CT scan is a more preferred scan over an ultrasound as ultrasound mainly provides a complete one image of the body part, whereas in the case of CT scan as is takes slices from different angle hence it qualifies in providing a detailed image that can help the doctor see any kind of abnormalities or blockage in the concerned body part.