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Evaluation and Tests - Imaging

Computerized Axial Tomography Scan (CAT scan, CT scan)

What is it?

A CAT scan is an x-ray procedure that combines many x-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views and, if needed, three-dimensional images of the internal organs and structures of the body. A CAT scan is used to define normal and abnormal structures in the body and/or assist in procedures by helping to accurately guide the placement of instruments or treatments.

Why do it?

A CAT scan is not a test for peripheral neuropathy, but is performed to exclude other disorders that produce similar symptoms. CAT scans are performed to analyze the internal structures of various parts of the body.

How is it performed?

Prior to a CAT scan, patients are often asked to avoid food, especially when contrast material is to be used. Contrast material may be injected intravenously, or administered by mouth or by an enema in order to increase the distinction between the signal of various organs or areas of the body.

Patients are placed on a movable table, and the table is slipped into the center of a large donut-shaped machine, which takes the x-ray images around the body. The procedure usually takes from a half an hour to an hour and a half.

How will it feel?

A CAT scan is painless, but requires some patience, as the patient must remain still. Patients who are claustrophobic (fear of enclosed/small places) may need a medication for relaxation.

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