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1.0 Introduction

Computed Tomography (CT) has been available as part of a diagnostic imaging pathway since the early 1970s.  From its inception as a tool to image the brain in cross section, the technological advances in the speed and resolution of CT have resulted in its current strategic position in the diagnosis, planning and surveillance of disease throughout the body. 

In 1979, its valuable contribution to medicine was recognised. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to Allan Cormack and Godfrey Hounsfield for the development of “computer assisted tomography” as it was originally known.1

Since then, technological developments include the growth of multi-slice scanners, dual source and dual energy scanners and iterative reconstruction techniques. Diagnostic and Therapeutic radiographers perform CT examinations of the body to diagnose injuries and diseases and to plan treatment. They are registered healthcare professionals who are competent to practice autonomously. The role of the Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiographer in CT has grown and the skill sets required to be a CT radiographer in a modern and challenging health and social care setting are diverse. 

CT is used for:

·      Rapid diagnosis of life-threatening injuries in major trauma, acute stroke, pulmonary embolus or haemorrhage (24/7 access)

·      Primary diagnosis and staging of many cancers. Follow up scans to assess disease progression

·      Assessment of the coronary arteries and cardiac anatomy in patients with suspected cardiac disease

·      Imaging of major blood vessels of the brain, body and extremities to assess and plan treatments such as stent insertions, for example, in abdominal aortic aneurysm

·      Guidance for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions such as biopsy, drainage of collections, radiofrequency ablation treatment of some tumours, spinal and musculoskeletal injections for pain relief

·      Pre-operative planning of orthopaedic surgery

·      Investigation of injury in paediatric suspected physical abuse

·      Planning of radiotherapy treatment.

Compared to conventional radiography, CT enables far better differentiation of soft tissue structures such as brain, lung, liver, bowel and fat, which can be imaged simultaneously with bone. CT is especially useful in detecting both focal and diffuse abnormality and can accurately identify size, number, spatial location and extent of lesions such as tumours and blood clots. 

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