What Is Computed Tomography?

Computed tomography, or CT, is a medical technique that uses ionizing radiation, a scanner and a computer to create three-dimensional images of sections of the human body. Computed tomography is used to diagnosis illnesses and to plan treatments for cancer patients. Continue reading for additional information on this technique. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Computed Tomography

Computed Tomography (CT), also known as a computed axial tomography (CAT) scan, is a non-invasive medical procedure that involves taking cross-sectional x-rays of the body to create three-dimensional images. CT scans are a widely used medical imaging technique for diagnosing and treating medical conditions. In addition, this type of scan can be employed in a preventive capacity, such as scanning the heart to determine the extent of calcification.

CT equipment is a large scanner with a hole in the center, where x-ray beams and detectors rotate around the patient, who is in the center. The images that are taken are interpreted by a radiologist. A contrast medium, such as iodine, can enhance the visibility of certain structures, or it can be used to examine blood flow or identify abnormalities.

Important facts about this Field

Median Pay (2014)$67,090 per year (MRI technologists)
Entry-Level Education Associate's degree
Work EnvironmentHealthcare facilities
Possible CareersRadiologic and MRI technologist

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Uses for Computed Tomography

CT's main application is in the field of medicine. However, other areas, such as materials testing or paleontology, have found it helpful. In medicine, CT creates images of blood vessels, soft tissue and bone. It's commonly used to examine:

  • Areas of the head to check for issues that may include bleeding, skull fractures or tumors or to guide a needle for a biopsy.
  • Areas of the chest to look for diseases, such as emphysema, fibrosis or cancer, or it may be used check for pulmonary embolism or heart-related issues.
  • Areas of the abdomen to evaluate cancer progression or to diagnose abdominal pain. It may also be useful in studying certain diseases, such as osteoporosis.
  • Extremities for fractures, dislocations or injuries to ligaments.

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