A computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to acquire detailed images of structures inside of the body.
During the test, the patient will lie on a table that is connected to the CT scanner, which is a large doughnut-shaped machine that can tilt to take images from different positions. The CT scanner sends X-ray pulses through the body each pulse lasts less than a second. These pulses acquire images of the organ or area being studied and are saved on a computer. A CT scan can be used to study any body organ, such as the liver, pancreas, intestines, kidneys, adrenal glands, lungs, and heart. It also can study blood vessels, bones, and the spinal cord.
An iodine contrast material is often used to make structures and organs easier to see on the CT images. The contrast may be used to check blood flow, find tumors, and look for other problems. The contrast can be put in a vein (IV) in the patient’s arm, or provided as a drink prior to the test. CT images may be taken before and after the dye is used.