A full-body scan allows a transparent view of the inside of your entire body. A radiologist can use images gained from whole body scans to detect a large number of medical conditions, including cancers, plaque, aneurysms, stones, cysts and other abnormalities. The full-body scan also helps the radiologist look for coronary artery disease and other circulatory problems.
Computerized tomography scans create detailed pictures of certain parts of the body, including soft tissues, blood vessels and bones in the chest, abdomen and pelvis. Using a whole-body scan, a doctor can confirm the presence of a tumor, determine its location, measure its size and evaluate whether the cancer has affected nearby organs. The radiologist can detect other problems, such as bleeding, abnormal tissue, swelling of the arteries, swelling or lacerations of major organs.
Analyzing Full-Body Scans
Radiologists, who are doctors, read CT scans. The radiologist reading your CT scan will use a systematic approach to review the anatomical structures imaged in the scan. During a full-body scan, a radiologist will evaluate images of all your major organs, searching the CT scans for evidence of cancer, abscesses and other problems. Each type of body tissue appears a little differently on the CT images.
Depending on the type of cancer and how advanced it has become, various tumors can have different appearances. Calcium salts accumulate in some types of tumors, and these salts glow brightly on CT. Benign brain tumors are slow-growing. This slow growth usually leads to a distinct border around the lesion, and this border is visible on CT scans. The more serious malignant tumors are fast growing and do not develop a distinct border.
CT scans can detect abscesses, which are infections that the immune system has encapsulated. On a CT scan, abscesses will appear spherical. The rim of the sphere may appear to glow with contrast dye. The radiologist also looks for asymmetry in your organs and other anomalies that may indicate a medical problem.
Full-body scans represent one of the most significant advances in medical imaging. The noninvasive examination of internal organs that whole-body CT scanning provides can reveal disease in its earliest stages, when illnesses are usually most treatable. It takes skill and experience on the part of radiologists to help patients transform the information gained in a full-body scan into a useful and cohesive health plan.