What Is a CT scan?
Computed tomography (CT scan), also known as computer axial tomography (CAT scan), is a healthcare process that creates three-dimensional images of the internal parts of a body or object. The CAT scan machine is a large structure with a tunnel running through the middle. The tunnel is big enough for a patient to slide into and lie on a table in the center of the machine. The CT scan images are created from a radiation source that rotates around the object. Images of the object are used to evaluate vascular systems, details of masses and tumors, infections, or the extent of trauma to particular areas of the body.
Who Can Receive a CT Scan?
Although a low risk healthcare procedure, pregnant women should not be exposed to the CAT scan procedure due to potential adverse effects of radiation to the unborn fetus. People weighing in excess of 300 pounds should make pre arrangements with the CT scan specialist. If there is renal dysfunction or diabetes, a healthcare physician needs to be well informed. Allergies to certain dyes (iodine) can also be a potential hazard. Iodine is often used as a contrast material so that tissue such as blood vessels will be easier to distinguish in the images.
How Is the CAT Scan Performed?
Heathcare patients prepare for CT scans by refraining from food and drink for several hours prior to the test, wearing comfortable clothing without metal objects such as zippers, and removing jewelry, glasses and possibly dentures. CAT scan specialists may ask that the patient drink fluids containing a special dye. An IV may be used to sedate the patient. The patient lies on a table in the center of the machine. The table progresses forward slowly through the machine while images are taken in a rotation around the patient. During the process, the patient is very still and at times needs to hold his breath. The process is complete in a very short amount of time.