How Does a CT Scan Machine Work?

A CT scan machine works by emitting multiple beams of radiation through the body and uses digital geometry processing to create detailed pictures, explains Medical News Today. The CT scanner moves in the shape of an arc to capture a series of X-ray imaging data used to create three-dimensional images, which the operator views on a computer screen.

Numerous two-dimensional images taken from different positions around the same point of interest combine to create a three-dimensional CT scan image, according to Medical News Today. A CT scan machine contains an X-ray detector, which allows for viewing of numerous levels of a structure's density. The tissues of solid organs are visible, and doctors commonly use a CT scan to image body structures such as the brain and soft tissues. A CT scan produces a more thorough image than an X-ray image and is very useful for medical diagnostics; however, a CT scan exposes the body to a considerable amount of ionizing radiation.

Use of a contrast dye may improve the clarity of a CT scan. For example, a patient drinks barium meal for an abdominal scan and receives a barium enema for a lower body scan, whereas barium injections improve images of blood vessels, states Medical News Today. Spiral CT scans utilize X-ray beams that move in a spiral path, creating no gaps between images to capture uninterrupted data.