What is computed tomography?
Computed tomography (or CT scanning) is an imaging technique that uses X-ray energy to obtain highly-detailed images of organs and other tissues and structures for diagnosis and disease management. Unlike a traditional X-ray that takes a single image from one angle, CT uses an X-ray device that rotates around your body, producing a series of images like the slices in a loaf of bread. These images can be viewed individually to enable the doctor to visualize very precise areas of tissue, or they can be “linked” and animated to show three-dimensional views for additional information that can aid in treatment. CT technology is so accurate and precise, it can help doctors differentiate between solid tissue like tumors and tissue that’s filled with fluid, and the images can also be used to measure and track the shape and size of of organs or abnormal tissue growths.
Windsor Radiology's low-dose CT scanner has the latest advancements in technology to reduce radiation dose significantly compared to older CT scanners. At Windsor Radiology, we determine the best approach to imaging based on each patient’s unique characteristics, including weight, body type, age and area of interest to ensure the most accurate data with the least amount of radiation exposure. Our team is committed to the principles of ALARA — as low as reasonably achievable — to maintain high image quality, while minimizing radiation exposure.
How CT scans work
Like traditional X-rays, CT scans use the same type of radiation to create detailed images of the inside of your body. But while a traditional X-ray uses a “stationary” scanner, the CT device rotates around you, emitting X-ray energy that’s absorbed by your body. Denser tissues like bone and solid organs absorb more energy while less dense areas absorb less energy. It’s this difference in absorption rates that enables the scan to create images of organs, bones and other tissues.
After the X-rays are emitted, any energy that’s not absorbed by your tissues exits your body. The CT scanner measures this output and sends the data to a computer for “interpretation.” The computer uses the measurements to create two-dimensional images of each “slice,” which can then be viewed singly or as a three-dimensional image which can be rotated for viewing at different angles. The doctor can also “flip through” the images to show changes in the tissue at different depths.
What to expect during your scan
CT scans use a donut-shaped device called a gantry. The gantry contains the X-ray device used to make the images. During the scan, you’ll lie on a exam table that moves through the gantry a little bit at a time. As the scanner moves around you, you’ll hear a whirring noise, and you might be asked to hold your breath for brief periods of time to minimize movement that could make the final images less clear. Although the technologist will not be in the room during the scan, you’ll still be able to communicate using an intercom and speaker.
Scans can take anywhere from about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the area that’s being evaluated. They're completely noninvasive and painless. Once your scan is complete, the results will be reviewed by one of our board-certified radiologists and a final report will be sent to your doctor.