A computed tomography (CT) scan, also known as a Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scan, is a specialized x-ray procedure offered at Outpatient Diagnostic Center of Alabama.

During a CT scan, multiple images are taken and compiled into complete, cross-sectional pictures (or slices) of soft tissue, bone and blood vessels. The resulting images reveal details that are typically invisible or difficult to see in a traditional x-ray.

A CT scan is considered a safe examination. While CT imaging does use radiation, the diagnostic benefits of the procedure generally outweigh the risks of radiation exposure. Unlike an MRI exam, CT scans can even be performed if you have a pacemaker. However, pregnant women should consult their doctor before the exam. He or she may suggest an alternative form of imaging to avoid exposing the fetus to radiation.

Most CT scans, particularly those examining the abdominal or pelvic region, use a contrast agent, or dye, to highlight the organ or tissue. This contrast agent may be taken by mouth, enema or IV (intravenous line). The contrast agent blocks x-rays, making the blood vessels appear white in resulting images to emphasize any abnormalities or issues.