A computed tomography (CT) scan uses x-rays to make detailed pictures of structures inside of the body. During the test, you will lie on a table that is attached to the CT scanner (which is a large doughnut-shaped machine). The CT scanner sends x-rays through the body area being studied. Each rotation of the scanner takes less than a second and provides a picture of a thin slice of the organ or area. All of the pictures are saved as a group on a computer. A CT scan can be used to study all parts of your body, such as the chest, belly, pelvis, or an arm or leg. It can take pictures of body organs, such as the liver, pancreas, intestines, kidneys, bladder, adrenal glands, lungs, and heart. It also can study blood vessels, bones, and the spinal cord. Sometimes an iodine dye (contrast material) is often used to make structures and organs easier to see on the CT pictures. The dye may be used to check blood flow, find tumors, and look for other problems. The dye can be used in different ways. It may be put in a vein (IV) in your arm, or it may be placed into other parts of your body to see those areas better. For some types of CT scans, you drink the dye. CT pictures may be taken before and after the dye is used.
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