The computed tomography (CT), computed tomography, computed axial tomography (CAT), CT-scan (computerized tomography scan) or more commonly the scanner is used to denote a medical examination. Initially, the term “scanner” qualifies first of all the device which makes it possible to carry it out. Indeed, it is above all a tube that emits x-rays. This is fixed on a mobile hoop which will perform rotations around the patient.
In fact, x-rays have the property of cross living matter, tissues, organs and bones. Captured by specific detectors, they will then be digitally translated in the form of particularly detailed images, in 2D or in 3D. This is the reason why the scanner is often used for confirm a diagnosis or to establish a tumor extension assessment. It may also be required to monitor the efficiency of a treatment or as part of a preoperative assessment.
How is a scanner performed?
After registering with the secretariat, the patient is taken care of by a radiology technician, who will tell him which clothes to remove and ask him to put on a gown, before bringing him into the examination room.
Unlike a “standard” radiography, the scanner uses a source of radiation rotary. The patient is thus lying on an examination table which will be gradually moved back and forth within the central part of the scanner. To obtain optimal resolution sections, the patient should stay still and hold your breath when requested by the radiology technician or radiologist.
It is possible that a contrast liquid is injected intravenously. This process makes it possible to increase the readability of the images. As a rule, the examination lasts between 15 and 20 minutes.
What are the health risks of the exam?
The scanner presents two main risks. The first is that ofallergy to contrast media even if it is relatively rare and benign. The second is correlated withexposure to doses of ionizing radiation likely to impact the patient’s health. This is the reason why the scanner is considered a irradiating examination.
However, the low doses emitted doesn’t seem to have a big impact on the body nor increase the risk of developing cancer in the following years. But the precautionary principle must still be applied.
Thus, the prescription of a scanner must be duly justified. Its realization in pregnant or breastfeeding women as well as in children should be subject to medical clearance, the benefit of the scanner to be greater than the risks involved. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to speak to your doctor or the medical team taking care of you.