A CT scan, also called a CAT or computerized axial tomography scan, is a diagnostic tool that utilizes x-ray technology to take internal images of a patient’s body from differing angles. The images gathered can be compiled into three-dimensional composites that provide more detailed information to your doctors. There are a number of medical situations that would move your doctor to recommend or insist upon a CT scan.
CT Scan vs. MRI
Compared to a CT scan, an MRI is incredibly sensitive to movement. A patient who has had issues with MRI scans in the past because of involuntary movement is more likely to get clearer images from a CT scan. Moreover, internal medical implants do not pose problems with a CT scan as they do with an MRI. For example, if you have metal pins in your leg from a previous injury, you cannot undergo an MRI due to the magnetism. You could, however, get a CT scan because the magnetism is not present.
Tissue, Bone, Organs and More
Unlike traditional x-ray imaging, a CT scan can provide diagnostic images of bone, tissue, internal organs, and even blood vessels. When a contrast agent is used, the CT scan can also let your doctor inspect your brain for blockages, swelling and other possibly serious injuries.
The impressive level of detail a CT scan is able to give in its images presents a huge diagnostic benefit. From the tiniest bone in your legs to the complex network of blood vessels in your brain, a CT scan can accurately capture any part of your body that is the cause of concern. When trying to accurately diagnose a complex or dumbfounding medical issue, your doctor can get an extremely informational look at what is going on inside of your body.
A CT scan can be done in real time, which means your doctor can be with you during the scan seeing the images as they are produced. Should your doctor need to perform a slightly invasive biopsy, the CT scan can serve as a guidance tool that ensures precise needle placement, deployment and retrieval. The more delicate the procedure or part of your body being worked on, the more important a real time CT scan guidance becomes.
After Treatment Monitoring
The final reason to get a CT scan goes beyond initial diagnostics into after treatment monitoring. As you heal and recover, your doctor can use periodic CT scans to make sure your body is responding well to whatever curative steps were taken. For example, if you suffered a badly broken arm and needed surgery to implant supportive metallic pins, a CT scan can be used to make sure your body is healing properly with the new implants.
As with all x-ray imaging, there is radiation involved in the CT scan. Though it is generally safe in small amounts, too many radiation exposures could cause eventual health concerns. Since it is your body absorbing the radiation involved with the scan, and your money that will pay for it, you should know the legitimate reasons to get a CT scan.
Yassin is a developer at BRIT Systems Inc. The medical imaging programs he designs helps physicians save time and money on X-ray procedures.