CT scans utilize X-ray beams to produce cross-sectional images that show the inside of a patient’s body. It’s a non-invasive procedure that allows doctors to see what’s going on internally without having to open the body surgically. Patients are typically recommended to undergo CT scans to verify or gain a deeper understanding of an abnormality detected through another test, like an ultrasound or an X-ray.
When CT scans were first introduced, it took days and sometimes even weeks for the images to be completed. Nowadays, patients can receive the results in a matter of minutes. Radiology has evolved in unimaginable ways, and the latest developments aim to make CT scans more accessible to patients. For instance, a mobile CT scanner allows doctors to expand the reach of this technology to even the most remote environments. This means more people can benefit from this diagnostic imaging technique even without venturing to hospitals and other centers.
But what can a CT scanner detect? Here are five examples.
Spinal problems and skeletal injuries
Unlike traditional X-rays, a CT scanner can produce more than just a picture of a patient’s bones. This particular diagnostic imaging technique can show doctors an extremely accurate image of the soft tissues found around the skeletal system of a person’s body. That means any soft tissue damage to a bone could be accurately diagnosed and treated.
A CT scanner can also measure bone mineral density. Hence, it can assist doctors in the diagnosis and eventual treatment of osteoporosis and similar diseases.
Lung and colon diseases
The CT scanner has come a long way since it was introduced almost 40 years ago. Aside from the improvement in accuracy, speed, and image quality, another technological advancement to this tool has been introduced: 3D CT images. These pictures are currently used to diagnose potential lung or colon diseases via virtual bronchoscopy or virtual colonoscopy (also known as CT colonography). Through a CT scanner, doctors can look at the lungs or colon without the need to put scopes like the ones used in actual endoscopy procedures into the patient’s body.
Internal and bone injuries from accidents or trauma
CT scanners are invaluable in the quick and accurate diagnosis of internal injuries, such as internal bleeding, in emergency situations. Because even the bones can be clearly seen in CT scans, doctors use this tool to check for injuries to the hands or feet that may not be as visible when checked using X-rays.
The accuracy of CT scanners in soft tissue imaging makes this technique a valuable tool in radiation treatments of cancer patients. With the images gathered from this diagnostic imaging technique, doctors can measure how much a patient’s cancer has spread and formulate the best treatment plan.
Diagnosis and treatment of tumors
Surgeons often rely on CT scanners to assist them in performing medical procedures like biopsies. In addition to providing doctors with a confirmation of the presence of tumors, this tool can also offer a detailed picture of their size and precise location. Furthermore, it can provide information on the extent of the tumor’s effect on the surrounding tissues.
While doctors often know what’s wrong with patients based on the descriptions of their symptoms, they sometimes turn to additional tests to determine the accuracy of their diagnoses. These tests typically include bloodwork and X-rays. At times, doctors deem it necessary to utilize diagnostic imaging to provide them with a clearer picture. Among these tests, CT scans are regarded as the most effective.