Medical Definition of Helical CAT scan

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Helical CAT scan: Helical computed axial tomography scan (CAT scan or CT scan) is another name for a CT scan, and is also called a spiral CT scan. Until approximately the mid to late 1990's, CT images were obtained one slice at a time, with the patient table moving step by step through the gantry. Scans obtained using this older technique often required 30 or 45 minutes, and the patient held his or her breath for every slice. Helical or spiral CT scans are obtained usually with one breath hold and obtain a volume of X-rayed tissue while the table moves rapidly through the gantry. Complete exams can be performed in less than five minutes. With the advent of helical or spiral CT scanning and rapid image acquisition, CT scanning has become the main diagnostic imaging tool in the radiology department.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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