What is a CT scan?

female patient lying down in a ct scanner

Computed tomography (CT or CAT scan) is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. A CT scan shows details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs, and the imaging is more detailed than standard X-rays.

In a CT scan, an X-ray beam moves in a circle around the body. This provides many different views of the same organ or structure. The X-ray information is sent to a computer that interprets the X-ray data and displays it in a two-dimensional (2D) form on a monitor.

CT scans may be done with or without “contrast.” Contrast refers to a substance taken by mouth or injected into an intravenous (IV) line that causes the particular organ or tissue under study to show up more clearly on the scan.

What are the risks of a CT scan?
How do I get ready for a CT scan?
What happens during a CT scan?
What happens after a CT scan?
How do I find out my test results?
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