Medical Technology

How an Ct Scan Works



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CT scans are used by doctors to obtain an image of the inside of a patient's body. Sometimes referred to as a CAT scan it is a diagnostic tool. CAT stands for computerised axial tomography which is a method of building an image of the inside of your body. It uses X-rays to produce a cross sectional image of a part of your body and through combining a number of this produces a three dimensional image.

The image is produced by firing electrons at a piece of metal to excite the atoms. When atoms are excited in this way they are in a high energy state. As they return to their normal energy levels the excess energy is expelled as radiation. This radiation is known as X-rays.

The X-rays are directed towards the area of the patient of which the radiologists wishes to create an image. Behind the patient will be a detector. The X-rays will pass through the patient but some will be stopped or deflected by the denser materials in the body, such as bone or tumours. This will show on the detector as different intensities and an image will thus be produced. A CT scan uses X-rays to produce a cross sectional image of a part of your body and through combining a number of this produces a three dimensional image.

Commonly CT scans are used to detect and monitor tumours within the body, particularly those in otherwise inaccessible places like within the brain. They cannot be used as a treatment in themselves, nor do they have curative or palliative affects.

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