One of the benefits of being a patient at the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving is access to our extensive network of specialty providers and other services. Because of this network, patients can quickly get the care they need. Your doctor may assign various tests, including CT scans, depending on your health needs. If your doctor requests a CT scan, you might be wondering what exactly is a CT scan? You might know what a CT scanner does, but you don’t know how it works. We’re here to explain the basics of how a CT scanner works.
A CT scanner is a complicated piece of technology, but it does an amazing job identifying potential maladies in the body by using x-ray imaging and computer imaging. Unlike a traditional x-ray, which only uses one beam, a CT scanner sends out countless beams. Another difference between an x-ray and CT scanner is how the machine sees into the body. Using the multiple beams, the CT scanner uses an x-ray detector that reads different levels of densities. This is another difference between an x-ray scanner and CT scanner: unlike an x-ray, which is great at seeing one density, a CT scanner uses its wider spectrum to create 3D cross-sections of whatever part of your body that needs to be scanned.
Depending on your needs, a doctor might use contrast dye, as this helps the CT scanner get a much clearer image. Additionally, if your doctor needs to see into your abdomen, they might request you use barium. This is usually ingested, typically the night before, to allow the substance to reach your stomach and intestines. If the scan is looking at your blood vessels, the barium might be injected. This might cause a tingling sensation.
Our CT scan allows patients to lay down on a table. The table slides through the x-ray detector. You will usually be asked to hold your breath as the CT scanner works to keep the image focused and still. This may be repeated a few times in order to get the proper image. This process should be comfortable for you, but if you have any discomfort or if you feel anxious at all, please inform the technician.
A CT scanner is a powerful tool for doctors to help find problems and make sure your body is functioning correctly. If your doctor has requested a CT scan, you now know how a CT scanner works and can feel a bit more relaxed as you undergo this diagnostic procedure.