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What is CT Scanning?

CT (computerised tomography) scanner is a special kind of X-

ray machine.

The technique of CT scanning was developed by the British

inventor Sir Godfrey Hounsfield, who was awarded the Nobel
Prize for his work.

Alternative Names
• CAT scan
• Computed axial tomography (CAT) scan
What is CT Scanning?

• CT scans are far more detailed than ordinary X-rays.

• CT scan combines a computer and X-Rays.
• The X-ray tube rotates around the body, the x-rays are sent
simultaneously from different
angles and sectional images
(pictures) of tissues are formed.
• The computer makes multiple

How does a CT scanner work?

The X-rays from the beams are detected after they have passed
through the body and their strength is measured.

Beams that have passed through less dense tissue such as the
lungs will be stronger, whereas beams that have passed through
denser tissue such as bone will be weaker.

A computer can use this information to work out the relative

density of the tissues examined. Each set of measurements made
by the scanner is, in effect, a cross-section through the body.

The computer processes the results, displaying them as a two-

dimensional picture shown on a monitor.
Parts of CT scanner
CT scanner usage
The CT scanner was originally designed to take pictures of the
brain. Now it is much more advanced and is used for taking
pictures of virtually any part of the body.

• bleeding in the brain

• brain tumors
• tumors
• swelling in body
• - CT scans allow the radiologist to see detailed views of the
lungs & the pleura
• Internal injuries such as a torn kidney, liver; or bony injury,
particularly in the spine.
• Used to guide biopsies and therapeutic pain procedures.
• Virtual images that show what a surgeon would see during
an operation.

How is a CT scan carried out?

The scanner looks like a large doughnut. During the scan the
patient lies on a bed, with the body part under examination
placed in the round tunnel or opening of the scanner. The bed
then moves slowly backwards and forwards to allow the scanner
to take pictures of the body, although it does not touch the
patient. The length of the test depends on the number of pictures
and the different angles taken.
How is a CT scan prepared for?
If the patient is receiving an abdomen scan, for example, they will
be asked not to eat for six hours before the test. They will be
given a drink containing gastrografin, an aniseed flavoured X-ray
dye, 45 minutes before the procedure.

This makes the intestines easier to see on the pictures.

Sometimes a liquid X-ray dye is injected into the veins during the
test. This also makes it easier to see the organs, blood vessels or,
for example, a tumor.

How the test will feel

The x-rays are painless. Some people may have discomfort from
lying on the hard table. Contrast give through an IV may cause a
slight burning sensation, a metallic taste in the mouth, and a
warm flushing of the body. These sensations are normal and
usually go away within a few seconds.
What the risks are
CT scans and other x-rays are strictly monitored and controlled to
make sure they use the least amount of radiation. CT scans do
create low levels of ionizing radiation, which has the potential to
cause cancer and other defects. However, the risk associated with
any individual scan is small.

Advantage of MRI Scan over CT scan

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging

technique used to take pictures of the lungs, structures of the
body and organs. It can provide detailed visuals of the body in
any plane. The advantage of using MRI over Computed
Tomography (CT) scans is that MRI scans provide greater contrast
between different tissues of the body making it easier to detect
malignant cancerous cells & tumors. While CT scans use
ionizing radiation or X-rays to acquire images of the lungs,
MRI scans use non-ionizing radio frequency (RF) signals to
output images of internal organs of the body.