A computerized axial tomography scan is more commonly known by its abbreviated name, CAT scan or CT scan. It is an x-ray procedure which combines many x-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views and, if needed, three-dimensional images of the internal organs and structures of the body.
A CAT scan is used to define normal and abnormal structures in the body and/or assist in procedures by helping to accurately guide the placement of instruments or treatments. A large donut-shaped x-ray machine takes x-ray images at many different angles around the body. These images are processed by a computer to produce cross-sectional pictures of the body. In each of these pictures the body is seen as an x-ray "slice" of the body, which is recorded on a film. This recorded image is called a tomogram. "Computerized Axial Tomography" refers to the recorded tomogram "sections" at different levels of the body.
Imagine the body as a loaf of bread and you are looking at one end of the loaf. As you remove each slice of bread, you can see the entire surface of that slice from the crust to the center. The body is seen on CAT scan slices in a similar fashion from the skin to the central part of the body being examined. When these levels are further "added" together, a three-dimensional picture of an organ or abnormal body structure can be obtained.
CT colonoscopy is an advanced technology of x-ray that uses computed tomography CT scanning to obtain an inside view of the colon. This new minimally invasive test provides three-dimensional images that can detect any polyps and other lesions as clearly as when they are directly seen by optical colonoscopy (endoscope inserted into the rectum).
The 64-slice CT scanner is a large round doughnut-shaped machine with a large opening. You will lie on a comfortable table that will slide in and out of the round opening. The CT will obtain images from hundreds of angles that are reconstructed by a computer into the two-dimensional pictures you see. Modern CT scanners are so fast that they can scan through the large sections of the body in just a few seconds.
Today by using the ultrafast, 64 slice CT scanner physicians can image the heart and its blood vessels without blurring. Using advanced computer technology, the information can be reconstructed into 3-D views of the heart and coronary arteries showing narrowing that can indicate early coronary artery disease.
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