What are the benefits of computed tomography (CT) scans?

In discovering and diagnosing some of the most deadly diseases in the human body, computed tomography (CT) scans, also known as CAT scans, have saved countless lives. CT scanning machines are powerful devices that harness radiation waves to produce 3D imaging of specific parts of the body. The benefits of CT scans include:
  • CT scans can image bone, soft tissue and blood vessels at the same time.
  • No radiation remains in the person’s body after the scan.
  • CT scans can reveal internal injuries and bleeding quickly enough to save lives.
In the mid-1970s, computed axial tomography (CAT) scanners became available, thus revolutionizing medical imaging. Cumbersome, expensive, and time-consuming at first, newer generations of computed tomography (CT) scanners permit helical (or spiral) scans of complete organ volumes within seconds. The fast scans allow images during breath-holding, thus minimizing respiratory motion artifacts. This technology can also be applied to the chest, abdomen, pelvis, brain, and extremities.

Within the gantry, a row of radiation detectors encircles the patient, while a rotating x-ray beam passes through the patient. The multiple transmitted beams are registered and back-projected, so that a transaxial "slice" of high resolution and contrast can be generated. Newer computational techniques have made it possible to create three-dimensional renderings as well as coronal (front to back) and sagittal (side to side) plane slices.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.