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How a CT-Scan Works

A CT-Scan, short for computed tomography scan, works much like an X-ray machine to provide doctors and surgeons with an internal view of the human body. A standard X-ray works by directing electromagnetic waves through a part of the body towards a metal target on an opposing side. As the electromagnetic waves pass through the body, the soft skin tissue does not absorb the wave but the harder, denser materials such as bone and ligaments do absorb the wave making them visible to the camera. Standard X-ray cameras work much like a regular camera but are capable of processing x-ray light as opposed to visible light. A CT-Scan works in much the same way but it uses a camera that is capable of capturing soft tissue as well. CT Scans also use a rotational camera to generate image “slices” of the organ or body part under investigation. In this way, the doctors are able to generate a 3D image out of these image slices of the patient and are able to pinpoint exactly where the problem is located.

How a CT-Scan Helps

A CT-Scan is typically employed to supplement standard X-ray or ultrasonographic images. For example, CT-Scans are routinely used to detect colon cancer or other abdominal diseases such as diverticulitis, renal stones, appendicitis, pancreatitis, or bowel obstructions. It is also used to detect heart disease for patients with a high risk of developing this disease. CT Scans can also be used to detect head trauma such as a hemorrhage, tumor, aneurysms, or infarction. This type of technology is the preferred method to detect pulmonary embolisms or lung cancers since it is much less invasive than other methods. For a patient with a complex bone fracture, a CT Scan will prove to be an invaluable tool since the doctors will be able to generate a full picture of the break where this would otherwise not be available in a standard X-ray. For the same reason, a CT Scan can also be helpful with sprains or ligamentous injuries with astounding detail. Clearly, CT Scans offer doctors many advantages since they are able to generate a clearer image of the problem.