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Computed Tomography (CT Scan)

What is this test?

Computed tomography, also known as a CT or CAT scan, is a painless, non-invasive way to see inside the body using X-ray imaging.

During a CT scan, our experts take multiple images from different angles. A computer combines the images to create digital cross-sectional images, or slices, of soft tissue, organs, blood vessels, and bone. The slices often combine to create 3-D pictures.

We often use computed tomography to help identify and diagnose conditions such as cancer, infections, trauma, and cardiovascular disease. A CT scan works even if you have a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.

Lee Health facilities use low-dose CT scans, which result in lower doses of radiation exposure. However, all CT scans result in exposure to radiation, so it is important to let your care team know if you are pregnant to avoid potential risk to a developing child.

How is the test performed?

You will be asked to lie on a narrow table that slides into the center of the CT scanner.

Once you are inside the scanner, the machine's x-ray beam rotates around you. Modern spiral scanners can perform the exam without stopping.

A computer creates separate images of the body area, called slices. These images can be stored, viewed on a monitor, or printed on film. Three-dimensional models of the body area stack the slices together.

You must stay still during the exam because movement causes blurred images. You may be told to hold your breath for short periods of time.

Complete scans most often take only a few minutes. The newest scanners can image your entire body in less than 30 seconds.

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