Definition of computerised tomography scan


COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY (CT) is a diagnostic medical test in which x-rays are used to obtain multiple cross-sectional images of the patient’s body.  Due to a very wide range of applications, computed tomography has become a basic imaging method in all medical specialties.  In diagnostics it is used to obtain images of injuries to the head, chest and abdomen, internal organs - including the liver, pancreas, and kidneys - and to detect neoplastic lesions as well as haemorrhages and embolisms. The CT is also used for virtual colonoscopies and non-invasive examinations of coronary vessels, replacing the classic coronary catheterization, as well as for other angiographic examinations..

Computed tomography scans are ordered by:

  • Neurologists to find the causes of headaches and dizziness, to exclude vascular malformations, proliferative diseases of the brain and the spinal cord, to diagnose degenerative diseases of the brain, including dementia, and to identify the causes of pain in the spine and other symptoms of neurological diseases.
  • Neurosurgeons to diagnose suspected proliferative lesions in the brain and spine, to identify vascular malformations, as well as post-traumatic and neoplastic changes in the skull and spine.
  • Cardiologists and other internal medicine specialists to assess the risk of arthrosclerosis, to assess the progression of coronary diseases, the morphology and functioning of the heart, the morphology of the aorta and other large blood vessels, and to exclude congenital or acquired heart defects.
  • Internal medicine specialists, pulmonologists, urologists, paediatricians or gynaecologists  to diagnose pathologies of  the lungs and walls of the chest in benign and malignant processes, to assess mediastinal lymph nodes, in diagnostics of the oesophagus, pulmonary embolism, pneumoconiosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and to assess the liver, bile ducts, pancreas, small and large intestines, adrenals, kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, prostate gland, uterus and ovaries.
  • Orthopaedists to assess the musculoskeletal system after injury and operations as well as before a scheduled operation, in diagnostics of tumours, degenerative diseases, inflammations of the bones, Paget’s disease and fibrous dysplasia of bones. An orthopaedist may refer the patient for a CT scan of some large joints e.g. the knee or hip, with a contrast medium administered intra-articularly.
  • Oncologists to detect and identify the range of neoplastic processes, as well as before scheduled treatment and during treatment to monitor the effects.
  • Surgeons to diagnose acute and chronic surgical conditions of the abdomen and pelvis as well as following injuries to the trunk or chest. The CT scan is most frequently performed to check the condition of large vessels, e.g. the aorta, before a scheduled operation.
  • Laryngologists to identify the nature of lumpy lesions of the neck, including the larynx, as well as sinusitis, and inflammations of the nasal cavity, pharynx, ears and salivary glands.
  • Ophthalmologists to further diagnose inflammatory, neoplastic and post-traumatic lesions.
  • Endocrinologists to assess the pituitary gland in patients for whom an MRI of the pituitary gland has revealed contraindications.
  • If necessary, computed tomography makes it possible to obtain spatial images of the trachea and bronchi, large and small intestines; this is the so-called virtual bronchoscopy and virtual colonoscopy.