CT Scans & CAT Scans

CT Scans & CAT Scans



What are Computed tomography (CT scan) or computerized axial tomography (CAT Scans)?:

CT or CAT scans are special computer-processed x-ray tests that take cross-sectional images of your body, using x-rays and a computer.


How CT scans work:

Technicians use special X-ray equipment to take images of your body from a series of angles. Computers are then used to compile these into cross-sectional (tomographic) images of your vessels, bones, and soft tissues. These cross-sectional images, called slices, show far more detail than an ordinary X-ray.


When are CT scans used:

CT scans can be used in many ways, including:

  • Finding the location of a clot, infection, or tumor
  • Seeing if a patient has internal bleeding or other internal injuries
  • Assessing the effectiveness of certain cancer therapies
  • Diagnosing disorders of muscles and bones
  • Finding and monitoring heart disease, cancer, masses on the liver or nodules on the lungs
  • As a guide when performing surgery or a biopsy, or administering radiation therapy to a patient



  • Radiation exposure: CT scans expose you to radiation, which can lead to a slightly elevated risk of developing cancer. The newest CT machines use lower doses of radiation than before; speak with your doctor about your options. If you’re pregnant, be sure to tell your physician; he or she may opt for another diagnostic test.


Possible complications from contrast mediums used in CT scans:

For certain CT scans, you may be given a liquid called a contrast medium beforehand, since it can help highlight the areas of your body that the scan is examining. Its side effects can vary by the delivery method:

  • By mouth: You may experience an unpleasant taste.
  • By enema: If the contrast is inserted into your rectum, you may feel bloating.
  • By injection: Your mouth may feel metallic and you may experience a sudden feeling of warmth.