X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT) is a technology that uses computer-processed X-rays to produce tomographic images (virtual ´slices´) of specific areas of a scanned object, allowing the user to see inside the object without cutting. Digital geometry processing is used to generate a three-dimensional image of the inside of the object from a large series of two-dimensional radiographic images taken around a single axis of rotation. Medical imaging is the most common application of X-ray CT. Its cross-sectional images are used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes in various medical disciplines. The rest of this article discusses medical-imaging X-ray CT; industrial applications of X-ray CT are discussed at industrial computed tomography scanning.
As X-ray CT is the most common form of CT in medicine and various other contexts, the term computed tomography alone (or CT) is often used to refer to X-ray CT, although other types exist (such as positron emission tomography [PET] and single-photon emission computed tomography [SPECT]). Older and less preferred terms that also refer to X-ray CT are computed axial tomography (CAT scan) and computer-aided/assisted tomography. X-ray CT is a form of radiography, although the word "radiography" used alone usually refers, by wide convention, to non-tomographic radiography.
Since its introduction in the 1970s, CT has become an important tool in medical imaging to supplement X-rays and medical ultrasonography. It has more recently been used for preventive medicine or screening for disease.