What is a CT scan and why is it used?

ACR computer tomography seal

Computed tomography (CT) scans, also called computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans, are a medical imaging method that uses a series of x-ray images taken from different angles to generate detailed cross-sectional images of the body.

These image "slices" help medical personnel visualize nearly all parts of your body and are used to detect:

  • Broken bones
  • Cancers
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Signs of heart disease
  • Signs of internal bleeding

This technology is especially helpful in providing a quick examination of people who may have internal injuries from a car accident or another type of trauma. Besides diagnosing disease or injury, CT scans are used to guide biopsies and to plan medical, surgical or radiation treatment.

Contact us:

Call our Consult-A-Nurse® team 24/7 at (855) 226-7344 if you need more information about scheduling a diagnostic imaging appointment.

If you have any other questions, please call us at (571) 349-4000 or get directions to our facility.

Our location:
24440 Stone Springs Blvd.
Dulles, VA 20166

How You Benefit

CT scanning is fast, painless and usually noninvasive. Compared to regular X–rays, a CT scan provides extremely detailed high–resolution images, and it captures organs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels all at the same time. This highly detailed and precise imagery helps doctors diagnose your condition more accurately.

Advanced Technology for Diagnosis & Treatment

We offer leading–edge 64–slice CT scanning and a large–opening scanner with tumor localization technology. Used with our radiation planning system, the scans can simulate treatment in 3D—allowing for the highest degree of accuracy in radiotherapy.

What to Expect

During a CT scan, you lie on a table and slide through the scanner, which looks like a doughnut standing on its side. The procedure is painless and usually takes only 10-15 minutes. Depending on the type of scan, an intravenous (IV) needle may be placed in your hand or arm and used to inject a contrast dye during the test, or the contrast may be given orally as a drink.

Learn more about computed tomography scanning in our online Health Library.