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Computed tomography – CT: what is it and what is it for

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

There are many diagnoses that cannot be carried out by means of the physical examination and consultation of the symptoms that the person suffers. Therefore, in these cases it is necessary to carry out a deep exploration of the area of ​​the body that is affected, to determine what may be causing discomfort and to rule out different types of anomalies.

The computed tomography , known as CT , is precisely a diagnostic test for exploring in depth the body area, giving as result images in different dimensions. This test is very accurate and allows the diagnosis of multiple pathologies. Learn in this FastlyHealarticle what a CT scan is and what it is for .

What is a CT scan

The computed tomography is a diagnostic test that uses X – ray through them, creating three – dimensional images of one or more parts of the body, these images are transverse and may be in the form of slices or sections. The results of a CT scan can be clearly seen through a screen, through which the radiology specialist will prepare a report with the diagnosis and later print the tomography to deliver the results to the patient. Delivery of a CT scan can take between 3 and 5 days.

What is a CT scan?

The CT scan is a completely painless exam . The patient must lie down on a kind of narrow table, which will be inserted into the tomograph. When the person is inside the machine, an X-ray beam will begin to move around the body to create the images, at this point in the scan it is very important to remain totally still , since movement can interfere with the capture of images, distorting them and throwing a false result.

In most cases, the CT scan takes only a few minutes. When the scanner is a bit older, it may be necessary to do the CT scans in parts. However, the most advanced technology in these devices allows images of the whole body to be obtained in 30 seconds.

Contrast computed tomography

On some occasions, specialists prescribe a CT scan with contrast . This diagnostic test is the same as regular computed tomography, except that it is necessary to introduce a substance or contrast medium into the patient’s body, this allows certain areas of the body to be explored in greater depth and produce more accurate images.

When the CT scan is with contrast, the person must be fasting for at least 4 or 6 hours before performing the test. Likewise, the contrast medium that is most frequently used is iodine, however, if a person is allergic to this substance, they can choose other alternatives. Contrast substance can be introduced into the body in different ways:

  • Into a vein through an injection usually in the forearm.
  • In the rectum through an enema.
  • For some types of CT with contrast, the person needs to drink the substance, which will later be expelled through the stool.

People with kidney disease or diabetes should mention their condition to the specialist before the contrast tomography, since this test can harm the condition of the kidneys and, in the case of diabetic people, it is not recommended to perform this test under consumption of metformin. Similarly, morbidly overweight people should check if their weight is supported by the tomograph.

What is computed tomography for?

The main function of computed tomography is the diagnosis or ruling out of diseases . This test is generally used to screen for infections, guide specialists to the correct place to biopsy, detect tumors, masses, cancer, identify broken bones or internal bleeding, and explore blood vessels. However, the purpose of a CT scan may vary depending on the area of ​​the body to be explored.

Risks of computed tomography

Computerized axial tomography is a test that does not pose any risk to people’s health. However, there are some considerations:

  • People allergic to iodine who need to have a CT scan with contrast may need to receive some type of allergy before introducing the substance into the body, since most contrast media work thanks to its iodine content. If you do not know if you are allergic to this substance, you should know that an allergic reaction to iodine in the body causes hives, vomiting, sneezing, itching and nausea.
  • The diabetic patients with kidney disease should receive more liquid after a CT scan with contrast because it will be necessary to stimulate the kidneys to eliminate iodine as quickly as possible through the urine.
  • Substances used as a contrast medium very rarely cause an adverse reaction known as anaphylaxis, therefore, if during the test you notice that it is considerably difficult to breathe, immediately inform the specialist who is performing the test.
  • If you suspect that you are pregnant or are in the first weeks of pregnancy, you should not have a CT scan. Pregnant women should always inform their doctor of the pregnancy before undergoing this procedure, as it can be risky for the fetus, especially during the first weeks of pregnancy.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Computed tomography – CT: what it is and what it is for , we recommend that you enter our category of Medication and medical tests .

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