Program note: Tonight, Dr. Gupta and Anderson discuss the recent studies linking overuse of CT Scans to cancer. Tune in at 10pm EST to get the latest.
What is computed tomography?
Computed tomography (CT) is a diagnostic procedure that uses special x-ray equipment to obtain cross-sectional pictures of the body. The CT computer displays these pictures as detailed images of organs, bones, and other tissues. This procedure is also called CT scanning, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography (CAT).
What can a person expect during the CT procedure?
During a CT scan, the person lies very still on a table. The table slowly passes through the center of a large x-ray machine. The person might hear whirring sounds during the procedure. People may be asked to hold their breath at times, to prevent blurring of the pictures.
Often, a contrast agent, or “dye,” may be given by mouth, injected into a vein, given by enema, or given in all three ways before the CT scan is done. The contrast dye can highlight specific areas inside the body, resulting in a clearer picture.
The length of the procedure depends on the size of the area being x-rayed; CT scans take from 15 minutes to 1 hour to complete.
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