In the emergency room, it’s vital for your medical care provider to have the best equipment to quickly assess your body’s unique issues, and it can be confusing to understand which diagnostic scan—whether it be a CT scan, X-ray, or MRI scan— is appropriate for you. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about your options for urgent care with CT scans in Houston.

What is a CT Scan?

Computerized tomography, known more commonly as a CT scan, is used to formulate images inside the body to thoroughly inspect the bones, muscles, organs, blood vessels, and any other part of the body. The combined X-rays and computer technology in a CT scan produce cross-sectional, computerized images of bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues, which makes CT scans more comprehensive than the standard X-ray. The CT scan is a valuable piece of medical equipment for a multitude of reasons because providers can use it to diagnose cancer, heart disease, trauma, musculoskeletal disorders, and other internal issues that are difficult to detect in the emergency room

How Does a CT Scan Work?

The CT scan creates 3-dimensional images of a section of the body, using a series of radiation beams to scan the body and a digital X-ray detector opposite the X-ray source. During a CT scan, the patient lies on a table inside a large donut-shaped machine as the scan rotates around their body. The X-ray detector grants access to hundreds of different levels of density and can even produce images inside a solid organ. The scan repeatedly circles around the patient’s body to achieve different angles and produces image “slices.” As the scan accumulates the slices, the information and imagery are sent to the radiology technologist’s computer to stack the images and create the 3D cross-sections within minutes. 

CT images

Standard X-ray vs. CT Scan

CT scans and the standard X-ray are helpful equipment to examine the internal body, and both machines use radiation and a fixed X-ray tube to produce imagery. Bones and teeth contain high levels of calcium that block radiation waves, so the traditional X-ray machine is valuable for bone fractures and dislocation. However, the standard X-ray machine cannot display subtle bone injuries and inflammation because it utilizes only one radiation beam as it scans, and the X-ray machine is best used for only major problems with the body’s bones. 

Unlike the traditional X-ray machine, CT scans give medical care providers access to a 360-view of the internal organs, bones, and blood vessels. These machines use a motorized X-ray source that rotates around the gantry, shooting X-ray beams through the body. The CT scan can be considered more sophisticated than the X-ray machine.

When are CT Scans Used?

Many urgent care centers use CT scans to diagnose muscle and bone disorders, locate tumors or infections, and detect conditions like cancer and heart disease. Because CT scans can display internal organs and other bodily structures in great detail, providers can examine the body from different angles and plan medical, surgical, or radiation treatment accordingly. Providers can even determine if the patient is effectively responding to certain treatments. For example, the medical care team observing a patient’s response with chemotherapy and radiation can use the CT scan to compare 3D images of a tumor’s size over time. 

Village Emergency Centers Can Help

CT scans are a useful piece of technology that can help your medical care provider diagnose, treat, and monitor any underlying internal health conditions you may have. Oftentimes, internal issues can be difficult to detect, and your doctor may opt for a CT scan because it is less invasive and much safer than surgery or a biopsy. Luckily, you can achieve urgent care with a CT scan in the Houston area.

Village Emergency Centers provide CT imaging for those seeking a comprehensive and fast evaluation of the body at every location. Our team of experts are here to ensure that you have access to the help you need and the care you deserve in our facilities 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Visit our website and take the road to Village today.