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In recent blogs we’ve investigated some of the very interesting aspects of the medical imaging equipment we deal with on a daily basis here at our Fair Lawn diagnostic imaging center. For instance, did you know that x-rays were the very first type of medical imaging? Or that DEXA machines deliver some of the lowest ionizing radiation of any type of x-ray, including dental scans? Or that MRIs deliver absolutely no radiation at all, depending instead on the spin of the water molecules in your body?

Today we’re going to talk about another important type of medical imaging, the CT scan, which stands for computed tomography.

What Are CT Scans?

CT scans use x-rays in order to look inside the body. CT scans are often used to look for cancer or to see blood clots in the brain. It can identify cysts and tumors, and can also identify some infections. All of the body’s internal organs can be analyzed in CT scans.

CT scans are essentially super x-rays. The x-rays are delivered in such a way as to allow the technicians to create “slices.” One of the best ways we can help you visualize it is to think of it as looking at a loaf of sliced bread. You can look at the entire loaf at once, or you can view each slice individually.

What’s Tomography?

This might be the only time that you ever hear that word. Tomography refers to the “slices” that we talked about earlier that allow a technician or doctor to see the inside of the body in layer or “sectioning.” Ultrasound is another type of tomography, as is an MRI.

While medical imaging is the most commonly known type of tomography, it’s also used in a number of other fields. For instance, archaeology can use it to see under the ground without digging. Oceanographers can see under ocean without diving. Materials scientists can use it to view the inner structures of machines with moving parts. Anything that uses waves to look at something in various slices is labeled tomography.

What About CAT Scans?

In most cases you’re going to hear healthcare professionals talk about CT scans. But back in the 1980s you probably never heard the phrase and were more likely to hear about CAT scans. They’re the same thing, because the A in CAT comes from the word axial, as it’s sometimes referred to as computerized axial tomography.

Why the name change? We’re honestly not sure. Perhaps the healthcare community thought that the idea of calling it a CAT scan was too childish. Maybe they were simply tired of hearing jokes about it. (Now that we think about it, that’s almost certainly the right answer!) But if you’re in the emergency room with a child and they suggest a CAT scan, perhaps the doctor or nurse will revert to the word CAT in order to calm the child.

Do You Need a CT Scan?

Whether you say CT or CAT scan, we’ll be happy to welcome you to Fair Lawn Imaging and get the medical images that your doctor has requested. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!