Fig-1: An axial CT slice of the abdomen displaying kidneys, lumbar spine, and areas of the small and large intestine


An x-ray technologist is displayed here informing the patient about the upcoming procedure

Computed Tomography (CT or CAT scan) is a modality of x-ray. CT is becoming more and more common and is taking over many areas of general x-ray some of which include imaging patients after they have been in an accident (also known as trauma imaging). CT can be very quick and provide excellent images for diagnosis, more images than a general x-ray of the same area. CT images are more advanced then general radiographic images because they image the body in slices opposed to a whole. It is best to think about this as a loaf of bread. A general radiograph is an image that is comparable to imaging the whole loaf. While CT, is the imaging of the each individual slice (Fig-1).

CT scans may or may not require the use of contrast media. It is the job of the x-ray technologist to inform the patient about the procedure and answering any questions. If the procedure requires contrast media the patient will read, answer several question, and sign a consent form. This form is then used by the technologist as guide to help him/her determine if the patient is able to receive contrast media for the procedure. There are several possibilities that may prevent a patient from having contrast media for a procedure and it is important for the technologist to known these and bring them to the attention of the physician if they are present. The most important indicator that contrast will not be used is any type of allergy to iodine (contrast contains iodine). The technologist will also interview the patient to help alleviate fears or anxiety by answering questions fully and honestly (Fig-2).

CT is considered a specialty practice in radiograhic imaging therefore, it is required that technologists take several courses to become a certified CT technologist. CT also requires that your insert needles into patients veins the adminstration of contrast media. In some programs across the country CT is offered as a specialty program, in which you begin training as a CT technologist throughout an entire semester. This course helpful towards getting a job in CT after graduation.


Bontrager, K.L. & Lampignano, J.P. (2005). Radiographic Positioning and Related Anatomy. Elesvier Mosby, 6th Ed.

Torres, L.S., Watson-Norcutt, T.L., & Dutton, A.G. (2003). Basic Medical Techniques and Patient Care in Imaging Technology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 6th Ed.