CT Scan (Computed Tomography Scan) - HCG Oncology


A CT scan, or computed tomography scan, is an imaging technique for creating detailed cross-sectional images of the body. It uses X-rays with computer processing to generate high-resolution images of internal structures, including bones, organs, and soft tissues. During diagnosis, the doctor may recommend a regional CT scan or a full-body CT scan, depending on the type of disease and the extent of the symptoms experienced by patients. Despite their effectiveness, concerns about radiation exposure and other risks should be considered while recommending CT imaging.

What is a CT scan (Computed Tomography scan)?

A CT scan involves X-ray technology and computer processing to develop detailed cross-sectional images of the targeted organ. It assists doctors in viewing the internal structures with enhanced precision for diagnosing and monitoring various diseases. The organs usually assessed by the CT scans include the lungs, abdomen, brain (head CT scan), and pelvic area.

What is the Purpose of a CT scan?

The following are some of the common functions of a computed tomography scan:

Diagnose Muscle and Bone Disorders

CT imaging assists doctors in diagnosing various bone and muscle disorders by providing detailed images of the musculoskeletal system. Musculoskeletal diseases commonly diagnosed with this scan include infections, fractures, and other abnormalities in bones and muscles.

Locate Tumors

Computed tomography scans play a crucial role in locating tumors within the body. CT scans generate detailed cross-sectional images that help identify tumors' size, location, and characteristics with high precision and accuracy. The information obtained through CT imaging is vital for oncologists in planning appropriate treatment strategies, such as surgery or radiation therapy.

Detects and Monitors Diseases Like Cancer

Doctors often recommend CT scans for cancer detection and treatment planning. Computed tomography scans allow doctors to identify cancerous growths, evaluate their size, and monitor changes over time. Performing CT scans for cancer improves the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.

Detect Internal Injuries

Doctors may recommend CT imaging for the detection of internal injuries. Some of the internal injuries detected by CT scans are internal bleeding, organ damage, and fractures. CT imaging ensures accurate and rapid assessment, aiding doctors in timely intervention and optimal treatment planning.

How does a CT scan Work?

A computed tomography scan uses X-rays and advanced computer algorithms to develop high-quality images. The patient lies on the table that moves in the rotating X-ray machine. The rotating machine captures a series of images during rotation. The images are then transmitted to a computer, which processes the images to create detailed, three-dimensional pictures of the internal structures.

What is the difference between a CT scan and an X-ray?

The main difference between CT and X-ray scans is their imaging capabilities. X-rays provide 2D images that are suitable for visualizing bones or specific organs. On the other hand, CT imaging provides 3D images by utilizing X-rays at different angles, thereby aiding in diagnosing complex medical conditions. Images of the CT scans are more detailed and have higher clarity than X-ray images.

What should you expect when you have a CT scan?

During a computed tomography scan, the patient is expected to follow the instructions provided by doctors and technologists. The following can be expected when a patient undergoes a CT scan:

Before the Scan

Before the CT scan procedure, doctors usually advise the patient to fast for a few hours before the surgery (especially when the contrast dye is used), wear comfortable clothes, and avoid wearing any metal objects. The patient should also inform doctors about existing medical conditions, pregnancy, and allergies.

During the Scan

During the scan, the patient is asked to lie on a table that moves into the scanning machine. They must remain still during imaging to avoid blurring the images. In some cases, CT imaging may require contrast dye that may be administered through an intravenous route to enhance organ and tissue visibility. The procedure is usually painless, and the doctors monitor the patients throughout the scanning.

After the Scan

The patient can engage in routine activities after the CT scan test. If the imaging is performed under contrast dye, the patient is advised to drink fluids to flush the dye out. Doctors may call the patient to discuss the results. The patient is provided with the post-scan instructions before they leave the hospital.

What are the Risks Associated with a CT scan?

Some of the risks associated with CT imaging are:

Harm to Unborn Babies

The risk of harm to unborn babies from CT imaging involves exposure to ionizing radiation. Although the levels are usually low and considered safe, pregnant women should inform their doctors about their pregnancy. The benefits of diagnostic information are weighed against potential risks, and doctors often consider other imaging options, if possible.

Radiation Exposure

The risk of radiation exposure during CT imaging is due to ionizing radiation. Though the doses are generally low, cumulative exposure over time can pose potential health risks, especially for patients who require frequent imaging to monitor their disease. Doctors should minimize radiation exposure, especially in children and pregnant women, and opt for relatively safer imaging methods.

Reaction to Contrast Material

Some individuals may experience reactions to the contrast material used in CT imaging. Mild reactions include nausea, while severe reactions (rare) may involve difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis. Patients should inform their doctors about allergies or their history of reactions. It will help the doctors take the necessary precautions and provide immediate medical attention.

Why Should You Choose HCG for a CT Scan?

HCG is an advanced cancer care center for the diagnosis and management of various types of cancer. CT imaging has a role in the detection and staging of multiple tumor types. HCG offers the expertise of skilled specialists, trained radiologists, and state-of-the-art technology to perform CT imaging.


CT imaging uses X-rays to create images processed by a computer. The imaging technique assists doctors in diagnosing and monitoring various medical conditions, including fractures, internal injuries, and musculoskeletal disorders. Also, a CT scan can detect cancer and support its staging and treatment planning. Although it is an important diagnostic technique, it is important to consider the risk of CT imaging due to the use of X-rays and contrast material.

Frequently Asked Questions

Having a CT scan typically does not make you tired. The procedure is painless, and any fatigue is usually unrelated and temporary, if any.

MRI and CT imaging differ in the techniques used for imaging. CT uses X-rays for detailed 3D views, while MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves for creating images.

A CT scan usually takes 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the specific type and area under the scan. The process is generally quick and smooth.

Before CT imaging, avoid eating for a few hours if contrast dye is used. Inform about allergies, medical conditions, and pregnancy. Follow the specific instructions provided by your doctor and the technologist.

CT scan and CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan are interchangeable terms. There is no underlying difference between the two.

After this scan, patients usually do not require extended rest. Patients can resume normal activities immediately unless directed otherwise by doctors.

Caffeine can interact with the contrast dye used during CT imaging, resulting in adverse reactions. Doctors may recommend avoiding it immediately after the CT scan.

Yes, doctors recommend CT scans for lung cancer detection and staging. The information obtained from this imaging method is crucial for lung cancer treatment.