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A CT scan (computerized axial tomography scan) is a special type of imaging test that uses a computer to make a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body. CT scans are not invasive and are performed in the radiology department of a hospital. CT scans allow doctors to look not only at a person's bones, but also at soft tissue and blood vessels. CT scans are often used for diagnosing cancer because doctors can see the exact size and location of a tumor inside the patient's body.
Sometimes, CT scans are performed using contrast dye, to better examine a specific part of the body by making it appear opaque. When this is needed, the patient is given a thick, white liquid to drink before the test. Once enough time has passed for the contrast to reach the intestines, the CT scan can be performed. A CT scan does not hurt, but it may be uncomfortable or difficult for children to very lie still for a while. Some CT scans take only a few moments, while others can take more than an hour. The length of time depends on what part of the body is being imaged. For very young children, mild sedation is often used to help them lie still.