Introduction to CT Scans
CT, or computed tomography, is a machine that takes X-ray images from the body at different angles to produce cross-sectional images or scans of areas inside the body. Each picture created shows the bones, organs, and other tissues in a thin “slice” of the body. The type of CT scan will depend on the area your doctor wants to evaluate. Listed below are some kinds of CT exam procedures:
- CT angiography
- CT abdomen scan
- CT bone scan
- CT scan chest and/or lungs
- Cardiac CT
- CT neck
- CT scan kidneys
- CT scan of the spine
- Head CT
- Pelvic CT
CT angiography: CT angiography is a technique used to visualize arterial and venous vessels throughout the body. Using contrast injected into the blood vessels, images are created to look for blockages, aneurysms, dissections, and stenosis.
CT abdomen scan: An abdominal CT scan captures images of the organs of the digestive tract. It can help diagnose problems in the liver, spleen, colon, pancreas, kidneys and other internal organs.
CT bone scan: A CT bone scan can provide a more detailed picture of the soft tissues, such as tendons and muscles, near the bones. CT bone scans may help detect cancer in the bones.
CT scan chest/lungs: A CT chest and lung scan can take detailed pictures of the area. It can detect abnormalities such as tumors, nodules, bleeds, congenital, lung disease, pulmonary embolism, etc.
CT neck: A CT scan of the neck captures detailed images of the base of the skull to the top of the lungs. Your physician may order this test if you’ve recently been in an accident or if you’re suffering from neck pain. The scan can also be used to diagnose infection, a birth defect, cysts, or tumors.
CT scan kidneys: The most common reason for a CT scan of the kidneys is to diagnose obstructive conditions, such as kidney stones. The scan can also help identify congenital anomalies, polycystic kidney disease, accumulation of fluid around the kidneys, and the location of abscesses.
CT scan of the spine: Spinal CT scans images of the bony spinal structure to assess the spine for a herniated disk, tumors and other lesions, the extent of injuries, structural anomalies, blood vessel malformations, etc.
Cardiac CT: A cardiac CT scan can take detailed pictures of a person’s heart and blood vessels. It is used to diagnose heart disease.
Head CT: A head CT helps diagnose head injuries, severe headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms of sinus infections, the ear canal, etc.
Pelvic CT scan: A pelvic CT scan creates cross-sectional pictures between the hipbones. The scan can help detect issues with the male or female reproductive systems, identify bladder problems, etc.
These are but a general list of what a CT scan can do. Our Radiology CT Division may or may not perform the listed scans above; it is best to contact our Radiology Department at Cincinnati Children’s to know what types of services we can offer.
Meredith Towbin, copy editor