Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
A CT scan, also known as a CAT scan or computerized axial tomography, is a painless diagnostic test
that uses x-rays and computers to create cross-sectional images of bones and tissues inside your body.
Your doctor may recommend a CT scan to examine your body for any of the following: blood clots,
broken bones, cancerous tumors, infections, internal injuries and bleeding, and signs of heart and vascular disease.
A CT scan helps your doctor: select the correct location for surgery, biopsy, or radiation therapy;
check the treatment of cancer or heart disease; and check your condition after surgery.
A CT scanner is a large square or round x-ray machine with a tunnel through the center.
During your CT scan, you will lie on a table that slowly passes through the tunnel.
As you move through the tunnel, a giant ring called a gantry will rotate around your body.
The gantry contains a tube that will release x-ray beams and detectors that will measure the amount of radiation absorbed by your body.
The x-ray beams will capture many views of your body from different angles as the gantry spins.
The detectors will send data to a computer that will create cross-sectional images
of the bones and soft tissues inside your body.
The scan allows your doctor to see the location of a condition inside your body,
which will help them decide how to treat it, or to see how well your treatment is progressing.
In some cases, you may receive contrast dye before your procedure in a drink, an injection,
or a barium enema to make it easier for your doctor to see certain areas of your body.
If you received a drink with contrast dye, your esophagus or stomach will be highlighted.
If you received an injection, your blood vessels, gallbladder, liver, or urinary tract will be highlighted.
If you received a barium enema, your large intestine will be highlighted.
After the procedure, you can resume your normal activities.
If you received contrast dye, drink plenty of fluids to help your kidneys remove the dye from your body.