Definition of Scan, helical CAT

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Scan, helical CAT: A conventional computerized axial tomography scan (CAT scan or CT scan) is an x-ray procedure which 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.

A helical CAT scan is a new specialized CAT scan technique that involves continuous movement of the patient through the scanner with the ability to scan faster and with higher definition of internal structures. Helical CAT scanning can permit greater visualization of blood vessels and internal tissues, such as those within the chest cavity. This form of scanner may be particularly helpful in the rapid evaluation of severe trauma injuries, such as those sustained in automobile accidents.

A helical CAT scan is also referred to as spiral CAT scan.


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