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CT scans differ from conventional x ray by collecting x rays that have passed through the body (those not absorbed by tissue) with an electronic detector mounted on a rotating frame rather than on film. The x-ray source and collector rotate around the patient as they emit and absorb x rays. CT technology then utilizes advanced computer-based mathematical algorithms to combine different readings or views of a patient into a coherent picture usable for diagnosis.
CT scans increase the scope and safety of imaging procedures that allow physicians to view the arrangement and functioning of the body’s internal structures. With particular regard to neurology, CT scans are used to determine the presence or absence of brain tumors. CT scans usually take about an hour and a half, including preparation time, with the actual examination of neural tissue in a brain scan taking 15–45 minutes.
Electromagnetic radiation of extremely short wavelength (100 nanometres to 0.001 nanometre) produced by the deceleration of charged particles or the transitions of electrons in atoms. X-rays travel at the speed of light and exhibit phenomena associated with waves, but experiments indicate that they can also behave like particles (see wave-particle duality). On the electromagnetic spectrum, they lie between gamma rays and ultraviolet radiation. They were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who named them X-rays for their unknown nature. They are used in medicine to diagnose bone fractures, dental cavities, and cancer; to locate foreign objects in the body; and to stop the spread of malignant tumours. In industry, they are used to analyze and detect flaws in structures.