What is a CT scanner used to diagnose?

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A CT scanner can be used to diagnose many different health conditions and detect abnormalities that affect the internal organs and structures. CT scans can be used to diagnose conditions in different parts of the body. The scanner moves to generate images of the different parts of the body and, as a result, detailed images of the internal organs, the head, the spine, the soft tissue and the blood vessels can all be produced.

A CT scanner can produce many different types of scans, which enable radiologists and other medical specialists to diagnose a range of conditions. CT scans can also be used to rule out other health conditions. Different types of scan include:

  • Head scan: head scans can be used to diagnose tumours, detect bleeding or swelling around the brain and investigate the brain after a stroke. Head scans can also be used to check for damage after an accident or injury.
  • Vascular scan: a vascular scan is used to check the flow of blood around the body. The images can be used to detect and diagnose vascular conditions in different parts of the body.
  • Abdominal scan: abdominal scans can be used to detect tumours and health conditions or diseases that cause internal organs, such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas and intestines to become inflamed or enlarged.
  • Bone scans: bone scans can be used to test bone density, which can help diagnose or rule out osteoporosis. Bone scans are also used to diagnose conditions that affect the bones and to detect damage (especially to the spine) after an injury or accident.

Accidents and injuries

CT scans are usually scheduled for patients who display symptoms of health conditions, however, they may also be used as an urgent diagnostic test for people who have been involved in an accident or suffered a severe injury. CT scans are more effective than X-rays in this situation because they produce detailed images of the internal organs. CT scans can be used to detect damage, such as tears to the organs, as well as identifying bleeding and inflammation.

Preparatory scans

As well as helping to diagnose conditions and diseases, CT scans can also be used prior to treatment. CT scans may be carried out before an individual undergoes radiotherapy, and the test can detect areas of damaged or abnormal tissue, which can help doctors to plan treatment.

CT scans can also be used to guide doctors when they are taking biopsies or tissue samples.