How Do CT Scans Work?

X-ray slice data is generated using an X-ray source that rotates around the object; X-ray sensors are positioned on the opposite side of the circle from the X-ray source. The earliest sensors were scintillation detectors, with photomultiplier tubes excited by (typically) sodium iodide crystals. Modern detectors use the ionization principle and are filled with low-pressure Xenon gas. Many data scans are progressively taken as the object is gradually passed through the gantry. They are combined together by the mathematical procedures known as tomographic reconstruction. The data are arranged in a matrix in memory, and each data point is convolved with its neighbours according with a seed algorithm using Fast Fourier Transform techniques. This dramatically increases the resolution of each Voxel (volume element). Then a process known as Back Projection essentially reverses the acquisition geometry and stores the result in another memory array. This data can then be displayed, photographed, or used as input for further processing, such as multi-planar reconstruction.