Merck Manual

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Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

A CT scan is used to detect both bone and soft tissue damage. During the procedure, 3-dimensional anatomical imagery is created by utilizing x-ray technology.

X-rays are used to create images by shining a high-energy electromagnetic beam through the patient's body. This beam casts a shadow onto an x-ray film. A photograph of the internal structures is created through the shadows cast by varying tissue densities. Softer tissues allow more x-ray light to pass through, while harder tissues, such as bone, allow less light to pass through.

While x-rays are limited to 2-dimensional renderings, CT scans are able to generate 3D views by rotating a conventional x-ray beam in a spiral around the patient’s body. This series of rotations around the body creates image slices. A computer gathers, compiles, and translates these images into a 360° view of a targeted area or even the entire body.