Computed axial tomography (also known as "CT scan" or "CAT scan") combines x-rays and computer processing to make very detailed images. It can clearly show tissues and organs. These images can be stored, viewed on a monitor, or printed on film.
A CT scan can show differences between solids and liquids. It helps find tumors, masses, stones, and cysts. Sometimes special dyes are injected to make the images sharper. The 3-D images produced by CT scans can also help a surgeon plan for surgery.
A CT scan works by using very small, controlled beams of x-rays that pass through your body as they spin in a circle around you. Thousands of x-ray images are collected within one scan. This data is collected in seconds, with no gap between the images. The computer puts the data together to produce complete and detailed pictures. The computer is used to make a 3-D picture of your body.