Computerized axial tomography 一 often referred to as either a CAT scan or a CT scan 一 is a type of diagnostic imaging that takes a series of X-ray images. Unlike a traditional X-ray, however, a CT scan produces a series of cross-sectional images. When these layers, or “slices,” are stacked together, they create a highly detailed 3D image.
While you might think of X-rays as a test that produces images of hard tissue (such as bones), you might wonder what a CAT scan can reveal about your gastrointestinal disease. That’s the question that Dr. Ebrahim Delpassand and our team at Excel Diagnostics & Nuclear Oncology Center are here to answer today.
What a CAT scan reveals about your gastrointestinal disease
CAT scans can be used to scan many types of body tissues, including bones, organs, and even blood vessels. This means that they can provide invaluable information about your stomach, small bowel, colon, blood vessels, and other internal organs 一 information that can be used to diagnose and monitor a wide variety of gastrointestinal diseases.
CAT scans detect abnormalities
CAT scans can reveal:
- Tumors, including metastatic tumors (mets)
The information detected during the CAT scan is used to diagnose conditions or monitor current ones. For example, images confirming bowel wall inflammation could be used to diagnose diverticulitis.
Depending on why you need a CAT scan, your CAT scan may include contrast. The contrast dye highlights specific areas, such as your blood vessels, and this helps produce even more accurate images.
CAT scan results can help explain gastrointestinal symptoms
CAT scans can also help explain the causes of certain symptoms, such as blood in the urine or abdominal pain. You may also benefit from a CAT scan if you have abnormal blood tests, abdominal swelling, kidney stones, appendicitis, hernia, or an unexplained fever.
For example, CAT scans may be ordered if you have unexplained abdominal pain. According to the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), CAT scans are more detailed and more accurate than a barium examination when diagnosing celiac disease. That’s because the highly detailed CAT scan images can gather information about your colon, lymph nodes, and small bowel 一 all of which can be affected by celiac disease.
Of course, celiac disease is just one example of gastrointestinal diseases. Others include inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcer disease, Crohn's disease, gastroenteritis, and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD).
CAT scans can help assess how well treatments are working
CAT scans can also play a big role in monitoring the progression or treatment of certain gastrointestinal diseases. Because CAT scans can detect tumors and mets, these images can be used to assess how well current therapies are working.
The key takeaways
To answer the titular question, CAT scans can reveal abnormalities (including structural abnormalities and abnormal growths), can help diagnose gastrointestinal diseases, and can help assess how well your current treatments are working.
To learn more about CAT scans, or if you have questions about an upcoming scan, call our Houston, Texas, office at 713-781-6200. You can also use our easy-to-use online form to schedule your next appointment.