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NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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CAT scan  listen  (… skan)

  A procedure that uses a computer linked to an x-ray machine to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. The pictures are taken from different angles and are used to create 3-dimensional (3-D) views of tissues and organs. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the tissues and organs show up more clearly. A CAT scan may be used to help diagnose disease, plan treatment, or find out how well treatment is working. Also called computed tomography scan, computerized axial tomography scan, computerized tomography, and CT scan.

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Computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen; drawing shows the patient on a table that slides through the CT machine, which takes x-ray pictures of the inside of the body.