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What is a full-body CT scan?

A full-body CT scan is an imaging tool that takes a picture of the body from the chin to just below the hips by using a technology called x-ray computed tomography (CT). Computed tomography uses special x-ray equipment to take cross-sectional pictures of the body, which can give much more detail about internal structures than traditional x-rays alone.

CT scans can be used to diagnose cancer, broken bones, blood clots, internal bleeding, heart disease and other medical conditions in people who have symptoms. They can also be helpful in monitoring the progression of disease or in gauging the effectiveness of a treatment.

However, the use of full-body CT scans in healthy, symptomless people is controversial. Some people who are healthy and are not experiencing any symptoms, but who feel that having a scan of their bodies can give them "peace of mind" and reassure them they are disease-free, may ask their doctors if they can have a full-body CT scans. According to the Food and Drug Administration, full-body scans have not been proven to be safe and effective for this purpose. Furthermore, they could lead to false positive results, unncessary follow-up testing and increased anxiety and stress, rather than peace of mind, as well as the unknown effects of exposing this asymptomatic patient to a significant amount of radiation.

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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.