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If your doctor has ever written you a script for a CT scan, you might have some questions about how your whole health will benefit from this imaging test. In fact, the CT test is quite a medical marvel, with technology that has evolved over the last 40 years to offer highly precise multi-dimensional images of the body. For you, this means that your AdventHealth doctors can better diagnose and treat an array of serious conditions with a level of accuracy and speed like never seen before.
What CT Scans Do
Computed Tomography (CT) imaging is also known as Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scanning. The word computed means that highly sophisticated computer software is used to analyze the X-ray images produced by the CT scan machine. These programs allow radiologists to take each picture, or slice, generated and rotate it front to back, view it straight on or zoom in on such a sophisticated level of detail that's quite remarkable.
Axial refers to an anatomical plane of the body, with cross-sections head to toe. In a CT scan, multiple sections of images with depth are generated in the axial plane through a technique called tomography, which displays a cross section through a human body or other solid object using X-rays.
As a result, you get multiple, highly detailed pictures of the human body in seconds.
The Difference Between a CT Scan and X-rays
A CT scan is essentially an X-ray, but a much more advanced one at that. Think of a traditional X-ray as a pair of magnifying glasses or binoculars, and the CT scan as a telescope.
While X-rays provide only two-dimensional images, with a flat picture of all body structures superimposed on top of one another on one plane, the CT scan allows you to arrange the X-rays so that they rotate around the patient to capture images in multiple sections at many different angles of the body.
That’s why for a CT scan, you lay on a table and the doughnut-shaped machine has an X-ray tube that moves around you. It rotates around the body up to 360 degrees, allowing up to 360 individual pictures of the body to be taken at slightly different positions.
And with today's software that uses very advanced algebra to add and subtract densities at different angles, there are much more knowns than unknowns for radiologists in reading CT scan images.
Now, you can generate an incredible amount of information about specific areas of the body and particularly imperfections than you could before.
What Advancements in CT Technology Mean for You
Invented in the 1970's in England, CT scans were initially used to generate images of the brain. Before this time, there was no way to get a glimpse of the body's soft tissues or structures, like tumors, infection and blood.
But today, CT scans are used in multiple subspecialties of medicine. CT scans are critical in the evaluation and diagnosis of head trauma or headaches, stroke, cancer, blood clots, pneumonia, appendicitis and complex fractures, just to name a few.
Considering the fact that the first-generation CT scan took minutes to scan just one cross-section of the body, today's CT scans have advanced exponentially to scan the entire body and produce hundreds of images in a few minutes.
CT scans are also evolving to produce not just three, but four dimensions, adding time to the bigger diagnostic picture. In tumors, CT scans can be done with or without contrast to see how the tumor cells present over time. This shows changes in blood supply to the tumor to assess the effectiveness of cancer treatments, for example.
Advanced Imaging at AdventHealth
AdventHealth is dedicated to bringing you the highest quality imaging service, and our technology, expert radiologists and network of physician specialists are all aligned with the mission to make you and your whole health their top priority.
AdventHealth’s extensive range of convenient, comprehensive and leading-edge imaging services are available throughout Florida in many inpatient and outpatient imaging locations. Consider allowing our leading imaging experts to guide you through your next imaging test. Learn more about AdventHealth's imaging services today.