A CT (computed tomography) scan, which is also called a CAT scan, is a type of specialized X-ray. The scan can show cross-sectional images of a specific area of the body. With a CT scan, the machine circles the body and sends the images to a computer, where they’re viewed by a technician.
An abdominal CT scan helps your doctor see the organs, blood vessels, and bones in your abdominal cavity. The multiple images provided give your doctor many different views of your body.
Keep reading to learn why your doctor may order an abdominal CT scan, how to prepare for your procedure, and any possible risks and complications.
Abdominal CT scans are used when a doctor suspects that something might be wrong in the abdominal area but can’t find enough information through a physical exam or lab tests.
Some of the reasons your doctor may want you to have an abdominal CT scan include:
- abdominal pain
- a mass in your abdomen that you can feel
- kidney stones (to check for size and location of the stones)
- unexplained weight loss
- infections, such as appendicitis
- to check for intestinal obstruction
- inflammation of the intestines, such as Crohn’s disease
- injuries following trauma
- recent cancer diagnosis
You may have heard of other imaging exams and wonder why your doctor chose a CT scan over other options.
Your doctor may choose a CT scan over an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) because a CT scan is faster than an MRI. Plus, if you’re uncomfortable in small spaces, a CT scan would likely be a better choice. MRIs requires you to be inside an enclosed space while loud noises occur all around you. In addition, an MRI is more expensive than a CT scan.
Your doctor may choose a CT scan over an X-ray because it provides more detail than an X-ray does. A CT scanner moves around your body and takes pictures from many different angles. An X-ray take pictures from one angle only. So, a CT scan is able to provide more information than an X-ray can.
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