What Organs Can A Cat Scan See?


A CAT scan, also known as a CT or computed tomography scan, is a specialized X-ray test that produces cross-sectional images of the body using X-rays and a computer. The scan combines multiple X-ray images taken from different angles to generate detailed 3D images of internal organs, tissues, blood vessels and bones 1. CAT scans are primarily used to diagnose various medical conditions and detect abnormalities in the body. They allow doctors to see inside the body in great detail without having to perform invasive surgery.


A CAT scan can provide highly detailed images of the brain and detect abnormalities like tumors, bleeding, swelling, or damage (1). The scan uses X-rays to capture multiple image slices of the brain from various angles. Since the brain is surrounded by the hard skull bones, a CAT scan can effectively visualize the different structures and tissue densities within the brain. Some key things a brain CAT scan can detect include (1):

  • Brain tumors
  • Bleeding or blood clots
  • Aneurysms
  • Stroke damage
  • Infections like abscesses or encephalitis
  • Hydrocephalus or fluid buildup
  • Brain damage from injury
  • Degenerative diseases like dementia

A brain CAT scan is useful when a patient has symptoms like chronic headaches, confusion, seizures, weakness, or vision changes. It provides a non-invasive way for doctors to see inside the skull and pinpoint any abnormalities in the brain’s structure. The detailed images can help diagnose neurological conditions, guide treatment, and monitor changes over time.

(1) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/computed-tomography-ct-or-cat-scan-of-the-brain


A CAT scan, also known as a CT scan or computed tomography scan, can provide detailed images of the heart and blood vessels (MedlinePlus, 2023). The scan uses X-rays and a computer to create cross-sectional images of the chest area. It is a noninvasive test that allows doctors to see the structure and functioning of the heart.

Cardiac CT scans are useful for identifying blockages or narrowing of the coronary arteries. They show calcium deposits in the arteries, which can help determine a person’s risk for heart disease (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). Compared to other heart imaging tests like an echocardiogram, a cardiac CT scan can more accurately assess the anatomy of the heart.

A cardiac CT scan provides 3D images of the moving heart, allowing doctors to see the heart valves, vessel walls, and chambers. It can detect problems like abnormalities in heart structure, valve problems, aneurisms, and congenital defects. The test takes little time to perform and does not require probes or injections.


A CT scan can provide detailed images of lung tissue, airways, and blood vessels, helping doctors diagnose various lung conditions (https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-procedures-and-tests/ct-scan). CT scans are often used to look for lung tumors, infections, inflammation, and other problems. They can detect even very small lung nodules, making them an effective diagnostic tool (https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/chestct).

During a lung CT scan, the patient lies still on a table while the machine rotates around them. Multiple X-ray images are taken from different angles and combined by a computer to produce cross-sectional views of the lungs. Lung CT scans only take a few minutes and are usually performed with contrast dye to enhance visibility of structures and issues.

Radiologists look at the CT images to examine the size, shape, and position of the lungs and structures within them. Abnormalities like tumors, cysts, fluid accumulation, pneumonia, and collapsed lung tissue can be identified. Comparison to previous CT scans also helps track changes over time.


A CT scan can provide detailed images of the liver and help identify abnormalities or diseases affecting this organ (Hopkins Medicine). The scan utilizes X-ray beams and computer technology to create cross-sectional images of the liver and nearby organs. During the scan, the patient lies on a table that moves through the CT scanner, which rotates around them. Contrast dye may be used to enhance the images.

Some key things a liver CT scan can detect include (U of R Medical Center):

  • Liver tumors and cancer
  • Cirrhosis or scarring of the liver
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Abscesses
  • Damage or trauma to the liver
  • Enlarged liver or spleen
  • Gallstones
  • Blockages in the bile ducts

The detailed images allow radiologists to thoroughly examine the liver tissue and vessels, assessing the organ’s size, shape and texture. This can help diagnose liver conditions at an early stage and guide appropriate treatment (U of R Medical Center).


A CT scan can provide detailed images of the pancreas and surrounding structures. It is often used to assess the pancreas for abnormalities or disease like pancreatitis or cancer (source).

CT scans can detect inflammation of the pancreas caused by acute or chronic pancreatitis. Signs like enlargement, fluid collections, calcifications, or pancreatic duct abnormalities may be visible. A CT scan can help evaluate the severity of pancreatitis and monitor for complications like pseudocysts or abscesses (source).

For pancreatic cancer screening, a CT scan can detect tumors in the pancreas as small as 2-3 mm. It allows assessment of the size, location, and spread of tumors. CT scans are also used to guide biopsies and evaluate the effects of pancreatic cancer treatment (source).

Overall, a CT scan is a key imaging test for examining the pancreas and diagnosing conditions like pancreatitis, cysts, tumors, or cancer.


A CAT scan can provide detailed images of the kidneys and urinary system to help diagnose conditions. According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, a CT scan of the kidneys may be performed to assess for tumors, lesions, kidney stones, infections, and other abnormalities. The detailed images allow radiologists to evaluate the size, shape, and structure of the kidneys and locate problems. CT scans are also useful for detecting blockages in the urinary tract.

As explained on the Brigham and Women’s Hospital site, CT scans can provide more information about kidney injuries and disease than standard x-rays. The cross-sectional images allow the entire kidney to be examined in detail. CT scans require the use of contrast dye to enhance visibility of the kidneys and urinary tract. Images are taken before and after the contrast is administered intravenously.


On a CT scan, the normal spleen has a homogeneous appearance and enhancements similar to the liver after intravenous contrast administration (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554559/). The spleen is best evaluated on CT scans using both soft tissue and bone windows. On soft tissue windows, the spleen has a homogeneous soft-tissue density. On bone windows, the trabecular pattern of the splenic parenchyma can be appreciated.

Some common pathologic conditions of the spleen identifiable on CT include splenomegaly, hypodense lesions, splenic infarcts, splenic cysts, splenic calcifications, and splenic masses. Splenomegaly appears as enlargement of the spleen on CT. Hypodense lesions within the spleen may represent benign etiologies like infarction or malignancy like lymphoma. Splenic infarcts appear as wedge-shaped hypodense lesions. Splenic cysts are fluid-filled lesions with imperceptible walls. Splenic calcifications appear as hyperdense foci. Splenic masses may be benign or malignant neoplasms.


A CT scan of the abdomen can provide detailed images of many abdominal organs, including the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands (RadiologyInfo.org).

The liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen are all located in the upper abdomen. A CT scan can detect tumors, cysts, infections, or other abnormalities in these organs. It can also reveal cirrhosis or fatty liver disease (Mount Sinai).

The kidneys and adrenal glands sit towards the back of the abdomen on both sides. A CT scan provides clear images of the size, shape, and structure of the kidneys and adrenals. It can spot kidney stones, tumors, cysts, or other issues (RadiologyInfo.org).

Finally, the bladder can be examined on an abdominal CT scan. The amount of urine in the bladder is visible, and the scan may detect bladder stones, tumors, or wall thickening (Mount Sinai).

Overall, an abdominal CT scan allows detailed visualization of all the major organs in the abdomen and pelvis. It is an effective way to look for abnormalities or disease processes in this region of the body.


In summary, CAT scans are able to provide detailed views of many important organs in the body including the brain, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and spleen. The level of detail and multiple cross-sectional X-ray images produced through computed tomography allow radiologists to examine these organs closely for any abnormalities or disease processes. Being able to visualize these internal structures is invaluable for detecting and diagnosing many medical conditions. While limitations exist, CAT scans remain one of the most useful imaging tests available. When used alongside other assessments, they play an integral role in modern medicine.

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