A CAT Scan or CT Scan is also known as a computed axial tomography. The CT Scan is a technique that allows relatively safe, painless, and rapid diagnosis in previously inaccessible areas of the body. An X-ray tube, rotating around a specific area of the body, delivers an appropriate amount of X radiation for the tissue being studied. It then takes pictures of that part of the internal anatomy from different angles. The CT Scan creates a type of X-ray that uses a computer to produce detailed cross-sectional images of the body. A computer program is then used to form a composite, a readable image. The images are then assembled in a computer into a three-dimensional picture that can display organs, bones, blood, and soft tissues in great detail. A CT Scan can take 10 minutes to about an hour depending on the area of the body to be examined. .
CT Scans are done in various parts of the body. For example, CT Scans can be done in the pulmonary area to check for fluid (pulmonary edema), which could be a sign of congestive heart failure. CT Scans may also be done on the head for emergency treatment for a stroke. A scan of the back would show any problems with bulging or herniated discs. Also, a CT Scan may be done to assess for tumors or other disorders in other areas of the body. .
There are some precautions to consider before a CT Scan exam can be administered. Since the CT Scan uses X-rays, pregnant women should not have an abdominal or chest CT Scan done. During the exam the physician will need to use a special dye, so the patient should report any history of blood clotting or allergic reactions to iodine, shellfish (crab or shrimp) or strawberries to the physician before the exam. .
There are different methods of preparation depending on the type of CT Scan performed. For a CT Scan performed on the head there is no preparation unless a contrast medium is ordered, then you should not eat or drink for 4 to 6 hours before the exam.