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Difference Between Ct Scan And Ultrasound

by Lyndon Langley
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Difference Between Ct Scan And Ultrasound

Difference Between Ct Scan And Ultrasound

CT scan (or CAT scan) and ultrasound are two popular medical imaging technologies that have been around for years now. Both help doctors diagnose diseases by revealing certain characteristics of tissues or organs within the body. Although both methods use sound waves to create images, they differ in several ways. Here’s how.
A typical CT scanner uses x-rays to produce three-dimensional images of the inside of the patient’s body, allowing doctors to see exactly what’s going on without having to cut into someone’s skin. A slice of the person’s body is scanned from head to toe as the machine rotates around them. This allows doctors to get high-resolution, cross-sectional views of specific areas of interest like the brain, lungs, heart, bones, blood vessels, etc., all with minimal radiation exposure.
Ultrasound is another common method for diagnosing health problems through images. It works similarly to MRI scans, except instead of using magnetic fields, it relies on radio frequency energy transmitted via transducers placed close to the patient’s body. Sound waves are then converted into electrical signals which are amplified and sent to the computer system where they’re processed into visual images. These systems vary depending on the manufacturer but most of them have similar components including a power supply unit, ultrasound generator, digital signal processor board, monitor screen, and transducer array. Transducers essentially act as tiny speakers transmitting the ultrasound beam into the body. They also receive reflected echoes back so they can calculate the distance between the transducer and a particular part of the anatomy being examined.
When you hear about these two techniques, chances are your mind will automatically go to their respective benefits and drawbacks. For example, people who suffer from claustrophobia might find themselves hesitant to undergo a CT scan due to its long scanning time while those who live far away from hospitals may not want to travel just to get an ultrasound done. But if we take a closer look at each technique and compare them side by side, perhaps we’ll understand why they complement each other and are actually more effective than either one alone.
Here are some differences between ultrasonic and CT scanners:
1. Image quality – An ultrasound is primarily a two dimensional image while a CT scan gives 3D images. 2D images aren’t as detailed as 3D ones since there’s no way to capture multiple slices at once. As such, the resulting ultrasound images are less detailed than CT scans. Also, unlike the latter, ultrasound doesn’t offer realtime monitoring of patients. Doctors can only observe changes after they’ve already occurred. However, this isn’t true for every case. In fact, many studies have shown that ultrasound provides adequate information for diagnosis even when compared against traditional radiography.
2. Exposure level – While ultrasonography requires small amounts of radiation, CT scans require significantly higher doses of x-rays. Radiation is a known carcinogen that causes cancer and therefore must be kept to a minimum especially for pregnant women. X-rays can damage DNA causing mutations which could lead to cancer later down the road. So although ultrasound doesn’t pose any direct risks to your health, you should always make sure to follow proper safety measures.
3. Cost – Since CT scans cost more money, they are usually more expensive overall. On top of that, they typically require special equipment like a gantry which costs thousands of dollars. Ultrasounds don’t come with the same price tag. Of course, prices vary according to location but generally speaking, they’re cheaper than regular diagnostic exams.
4. Availability – You can find ultrasound units easily in almost all modern hospitals. This is mainly thanks to the wide availability of portable machines. On the other hand, CT scanners are still relatively rare. Most larger hospitals own only one or two of them. If yours does not, finding a nearby hospital with a good one can prove difficult.
5. Target area – Ultrasound can be used to examine virtually any type of tissue whereas a CT scan focuses on soft tissues like muscle, bone, cartilage, fat, etc. When used together, however, they effectively provide complementary information for evaluating hard tissues too. For instance, a CT scan can determine the size and shape of tumors while an ultrasound can reveal whether they contain fluid pockets.
6. Accuracy – Diagnosis provided by both types of scanners can sometimes overlap. Studies show that ultrasound is 80% accurate while CT is 90%. With regards to distinguishing benign from malignant tumors, the accuracy rate goes up to 95%.
So next time you think twice before undergoing an ultrasound exam, consider getting a CT scan instead. After all, they complement each other quite well and together, they form a powerful duo for diagnosing various ailments within the human body!

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