How Do CT Machines Create Images?

If you are considering having a CT procedure performed, you are likely wondering how this machine can create the images that your radiologist will review. Medical imaging is a field of medicine that is continuously changing and making better innovations and discoveries. But for the patient, trying to understand these innovations and technologies can be difficult. The key to having the best medical experience for both doctor and patient is gaining information and finding treatment. When the patient understands fully the procedures that they will be undergoing, they will have less anxiety and allow for the doctor to perform his duty to the best of their ability.

A CT scan, or computed tomography, is a medical imaging procedure that uses computer technology in combination with X-ray capabilities in order to create images. A CT machine looks like a large donut with a portal through the middle. When you have this procedure performed, you will lie on the exam table on your back and be slowly moved through the portal. From this point, you may hear a whirring sound and see the machine spinning around you. This is because CT machines are now formatted with a helical or spiral mechanism that creates the cross-sectional images your radiologist will view. CT machines use thin beams of radiation to view the internal structures which are absorbed on the other side of the portal. The information gained is then submitted into a computer that calculates the images into sections or layers. That way doctors can see throughout an organ or cavity instead of just on top of it.

For some CT scans, your doctor may recommend using contrast material. Contrast material is common in CT scans and allows for certain structures or masses to become clearer in images. Contrast material can be administered through an IV or by mouth. If you have kidney problems, let your doctor know because contrast material can occasionally affect the kidneys in some patients.  If you have radiation concerns, know that most of the newer CT scanners are of the helical fashion and use significantly less radiation than traditional scanners.

These machines are extremely important to physicians for the diagnosis of diseases and determining treatment options. If you have other concerns or questions, speak to your physician or radiologist about your options with medical imaging procedures.

Looking for a CT Scan in the New Orleans or Metairie, LA area? Schedule your appointment with Doctors Imaging by calling 504-883-8111 or using our online appointment form.