Diagnostic imaging in the medical field has many tools, and one of them is the CT scan. The letters CT stand for computed tomography. CT scans work in a way that is similar to x-ray scans, the kind that produce images of cavities in teeth. CT scans show images of the inside of the body. They can produce cross-sectional images of the brain, for example. CT scans are sometimes made after a dye has been introduced into the bloodstream.

According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, CT scans can reveal problems with the heart during a cardiac CT scan. These CT scans can reveal problems with the coronary arteries, such as blockages and sections that have narrowed. Cardiac CT scans can also reveal problems with the aorta such as aneurysms, which are weakened sections that bulge out. Another aorta problem that a cardiac CT scan can reveal is dissections, which occur when layers of the aorta peel away, causing weakening. A cardiac CT scan can also reveal a pulmonary embolism, which is a blockage in an artery in the lungs. This type of CT scan can also reveal pericardial disease, which occurs when a sac forms around the heart.

Common Uses

According to the Radiological Society of North America, CT scans are commonly used to diagnose many types of cancer, including liver, lung and pancreatic cancer. CT scans are also commonly used in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal problems. Other bones problems in the hands and feet are diagnosed with CT scans because they can yield good pictures of small bones as well as the surrounding tissue, including blood vessels and muscle.

Other Uses

CT scans can be used to identify injuries to internal organs that result from trauma. They can assist in guiding biopsies and minimally invasive surgical procedures. They can also be used in the planning of organ transplants and the assessments of the transplants. CT scans can be used in planning radiation treatments and in the assessments of the treatments. In the case of osteoporosis, they can aid in the measurement of bone density.