A CT scan (computed tomography scan), often known as a CAT scan or computed axial tomography scan, is a medical imaging procedure that produces precise internal images of the body. The individuals who perform CT scans are radiologists or radiography technologists. In the CT scan, cross-sectional images (slices) of the bones, blood arteries, and soft tissues inside your body are produced during a computerized tomography (CT) scan, which combines a number of X-ray images collected from various angles all over your body.
Images from a CT scan offer more information than an X-ray would. There are various applications for a CT scan, but it is especially useful for immediately examining patients who may have internal damage from sudden accidents or other types of trauma. Nearly every region of the body may be seen using a CT scan, which is also used to plan medical, surgical, or radiation treatments as well as detect diseases and injuries.
Why do you need a CT scan?
Your doctor may advise a CT scan:
- Diagnose skeletal and muscular conditions, including bone cancers and fractures
- Identify a tumor, infection, or blood clot’s location.
- To help with surgical, biopsy, and radiation therapy procedures
- Detect and remain vigilant on ailments and diseases like cancer, heart disease, lung nodules, and liver masses.
- Track the results of specific treatments, such as cancer treatment
- Identify internal bleeding and injuries
What does it show?
A cross-section or slice of the body is visible on a CT scan. In contrast to traditional x-rays, the image clearly displays your bones, organs, and soft tissues.
A tumor’s size, position, and shape can all be visible on a CT scan. They can also display the blood veins feeding the tumor without cutting into the patient.
In order to remove a little bit of tissue, doctors frequently use CT scans as needle guides. It’s known as a CT-guided biopsy. For some cancer treatments, such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which utilizes heat to eliminate a tumor, CT scans can also be help to guide needles into malignancies.
When is a CT scan necessary?
There are several reasons why doctors prescribe CT scans, including:
- CT scans can identify malignancies and complex bone fractures, among other joint and bone conditions.
- CT scans can detect conditions like cancer, heart disease, emphysema, or liver tumors and enable medical professionals to notice any changes in such conditions.
- They exhibit internal bleeding and wounds similar to those from car accidents.
- A tumor, blood clot, surplus fluid, or infection may be located with their assistance.
- In order to direct treatment plans and operations like biopsies, surgeries, and radiation therapy, doctors employ them.
- To determine if particular therapies are effective, doctors might compare CT scans. For instance, repeated tumor scans over time can reveal how well either chemotherapy or radiation is working.
- Identify internal bleeding and injuries.
How does a CT scan work?
A focused X-ray beam circles a specific area of your body. This is a collection of images captured from many angles. This data is used by a computer to produce a cross-sectional image. This two-dimensional (2D) scan displays a “slice” of the interior of your body.
A number of slices are created by repeating this procedure. These scans are stacked on top of one another by the computer to produce an intricate representation of your inside organs, bones, or blood vessels. For a clearer image, certain contrast materials might be utilized. These can be injected into a vein, ingested as a liquid, or administered as an enema through the rectum into the intestines. The system can provide a 3-D view by stacking CT image slices on top of one another. On a computer screen, the 3-D image can be turned to view it from varied angles. For instance, a surgeon would utilize this kind of scan to examine a tumor from all angles in order to plan an operation.
CT scan and Cancer
The CT scan can determine the shape and size of a tumor, sometimes referred to as a computed tomography scan. Having a CT scan is often an outpatient procedure. It takes between 10 and 30 minutes and is painless. In the detection and management of cancer, CT scans have many diverse functions.
CT is occasionally helps in the diagnosis of several cancers, including lung and colorectal cancer.
To find and measure potential tumors, your doctor could request a CT scan. It might also assist in figuring out whether a tumor has returned.
Planning and treatment advice
Your doctor may use a CT scan to locate and identify the tissue that requires a biopsy. Additionally, it can also help to plan surgery or external-beam radiation, as well as therapies like cryotherapy, microwave ablation, and the insertion of radioactive seeds.
Response to treatment
In order to determine how well a tumor is responding to treatment, doctors occasionally conduct a scan.
As a tool for detecting various diseases
The following conditions, which may or may not have any connection to cancer, may require CT scans:
- Cardiovascular disease
- vascular aneurysms
- pneumonia or emphysema
- bladder and kidney stones
- Inflammatory conditions, including sinusitis and ulcerative colitis
- Abnormal brain activity
- Injuries in internal organs or head
- Bone fractures
- Blood clots
Are there any side effects of a CT scan?
Your doctor’s ability to diagnose and treat your cancer may depend on the information they learn from a CT scan. However, it may have side effects such as:
Low-level ionizing radiation is used in CT scans. The radiation level is minimal despite being higher than what an X-ray would generate. However, questions have been raised about whether even very low doses of radiation from imaging could result in cancer. The data retrieved from the scan typically outweighs the comparatively small radiation dangers.
Disrupt Kidney Function
The contrast dye may worsen any kidney problems you may have. It can also cause contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN) and may result in weariness, ankle and foot swelling, and dry, itchy skin. Serious kidney and cardiac issues could potentially result from CIN.
Rarely, but occasionally, patients experience allergic reactions to the contrast agents. Hives or itching could occur. Inform the technician immediately if you have any of the symptoms of a major allergic response, including shortness of breath and swelling in your throat.