We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Best Tips for Reading a CT Scan?

By L. Baran
Updated Feb 11, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Computerized tomography (CT) scans are special types of x-rays that create high definition images of body parts using contrast dyes. They are typically read by radiologists or other qualified medical doctors. Reading a CT scan requires training and an in-depth knowledge of human anatomy, but there are some tricks to analyzing the images produced. Using an effective light source, knowing the details of the anatomical area being analyzed, noting differences in color, and looking for asymmetrical areas are all helpful tools for reading a CT scan.

An appropriate light source is necessary to interpret any scan correctly. The best tool is a bright light box that highlights contrast, but any bright light will be sufficient. Light should be placed directly behind the scan images for maximum clarity. While it may seem obvious, correctly identifying the right and left sides of the body is imperative to accurately interpreting a scan, but may not be as simple as it sounds.

Knowledge of the area being assessed, even at a basic level, is essential to understanding a CT scan. Before the images are analyzed, the reader should familiarize himself or herself with the anatomy of the area in question. This should include prominent structures, major points of reference, areas of fluid, and structural cavities. Abnormalities will be much easier to identify if normal anatomy is understood.

Since contrast dye is used to produce tomographic images, noting colors is particularly important when reading a CT scan. Certain body structures will absorb dye, while others will repel it, resulting in color contrasts when the image is created. Black is indicative of fluid, while white areas suggest tissue buildup. Abnormal objects, including surgical hardware or unidentified matter, will appear silver in color. Masses that may be cancerous will appear as bright white areas, while lesions in the brain or other organs caused by excessive fluid will appear dark black.

Much of the body's anatomy is organized symmetrically to improve function and efficiency. Noting areas that are not symmetrical may help to identify problems, such as organ displacement or swelling in the brain. Often, comparing one side of the body to another when reading a CT scan can be very helpful in identifying issues, as differences will become more obvious.

Definitive diagnoses based on the images obtained from a CT scan can only be made by qualified medical professionals. Any questions about the images or results of scans should be directed to a radiologist or medical professional. These doctors should be able to explain the pictures in simple terms to help their patients fully understand the results.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.