Computed Tomography, or CT scanning, uses a computer to organize and stack information from multiple x-rays or cross-sectional "slices" of a body's organ or area. The scans are made by having the sources of an x-ray beam rotate around the patient. X-rays passing through the body are detected by sensors that pass the information to computers. Once processed, the information is displayed as an image on a video screen. The diagnostic tool of choice in a wide variety of situations the CT Scan--can replace more painful examinations, and even exploratory surgery in some cases. Our CT services are accredited by the American College of Radiology, which establishes national standards of excellence for both equipment and training of technologists and medical staff.
Computed Tomography Scan (CT-Scan) revolutionized Medical Imaging when it became widely available in the 1970s. CT uses X-rays to create images of the body. However, a radiograph (X-ray) and a CAT-scan work in different ways. An X-ray is a two-dimensional picture and a CAT-scan is three-dimensional. By imaging and looking at several three-dimensional "slices" of a body (like slices of bread) a doctor can tell, for example, not only if a tumor is present, but about how deep it is in the body. The newer spiral (also called helical) CT scan takes continuous pictures of the body in a spiral motion, so there are no gaps in the pictures collected.
CT imaging is particularly useful because it can show several types of tissues -- lung, bone, soft tissue, and blood vessels -- with great clarity. Using specialized equipment and expertise to create and interpret CT scans of the body, radiologists can easily diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma, and musculoskeletal disorders.
Preparing for this test: For some studies, you may not eat solid food for four hours prior to your CT appointment. You may, however, have clear liquids (black coffee/tea, broth, clear soups, or juice) during this time in moderate amounts. Some patients will be asked to arrive one hour ahead of time so that a barium mixture they drink will reach and outline the gastrointestinal tract. Some CT scans do not require special preparation - be sure to check with your doctor or the Medical Imaging staff regarding your test. From start to finish, the picture-taking part of the test usually lasts only 10 to 15 minutes.