Computerized tomography scans, more commonly known as CT scans, can locate tumors or diagnose the causes of severe headaches or abdominal pain, according to MedicineNet. Doctors also use them to check the extent of traumatic injuries.
CT scans are one of the most detailed imaging tools, notes NHS Choices. They work by using a rotating X-ray tube to obtain images that a computer then compiles into a detailed image called a tomogram. Tomograms can include clear pictures of small structures such as blood vessels and internal organs that are more difficult to see in a traditional X-ray, giving CT scans a number of diagnostic uses.
Doctors sometimes use CT scans to check bone density in people suffering from osteoporosis, reports MedicineNet. They can locate internal cysts and abscesses and help diagnose some types of infections. A doctor may order a CT scan before attempting certain procedures, including biopsies, to get a clear picture of the affected area and help ensure a minimally invasive procedure.
Some people should not get CT scans, according to U.S. News and World Report. The scans have a much higher level of radiation than a simple X-ray, so pregnant women should avoid them. Because children may need them in some cases, pediatric CT scans often have lower doses of radiation. Because the negative effects of radiation are cumulative, frequent CT scans can be harmful.