Computed Tomography (CT) scans are also called CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scans, which sometimes confuses patients. A CT scan is a specialized way of using x-rays; it combines images taken from different angles to produce a set of digital cross-section views, which can also be displayed as a 3-D image. The software that renders the x-ray images on the computer allows doctors to look at the structure they want to study in layers they can adjust as needed, for a precise view and understanding of where a problem lies.

Because of the precise mapping CT scanning allows, your doctors or surgeons can use the images to make an extremely detailed plan for treatment. CT imaging is often used to treat cancer patients, because it can offer an exact representation of a tumor and the body tissues surrounding it, so surgeons can carefully plan their approach and technique in advance and be aware of any potential issues before surgery begins. In some cases, CT imaging may eliminate the need for a surgical biopsy in making a firm diagnosis.

Using 3-D imaging gives your doctors as much information as possible to help determine whether a medical treatment will resolve your condition, or whether surgical treatment may be necessary. CT scans are non-invasive, painless, and safe for patients who have implanted medical devices like pacemakers, pins, or plates

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Virtual colonoscopy is also known as CT colonoscopy, because it uses Computed Tomography (CT) scanning to render 2-D and 3-D images of a patient’s colon, which helps doctors look for polyps and other abnormalities and treat them quickly.

CT colonoscopy does not require sedation, and it is far less invasive than endoscopic colonoscopy. A small tube is inserted about two inches into the rectum, to deliver air into the colon; this takes any folds or wrinkles out of the colon tissue, to provide a better view. The patient is scanned twice, once face-up, and once facedown. The entire procedure usually takes about 15 minutes. Because CT colonoscopy eliminates the need to run an endoscope through the full length of the patient’s colon, there is far less discomfort, and significantly less risk of perforating the colon while imaging its interior.

In addition to routine screenings for low-risk patients, CT colonoscopy may be a better alternative to endoscopic colonoscopy for patients who are elderly or frail, people who take certain medications like blood thinners, or patients who have a blockage or narrowing of the bowel. CT colonoscopy is less expensive than conventional endoscopy, and private insurance companies who participate in the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange program are required to cover the procedure.

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