A chest CT scan is frequently ordered to look at the lungs, heart and nearby tissues. It may be ordered after a chest x-ray shows a lung nodule or to evaluate pneumonia and other lung diseases such as emphysema. Some chest CT scans are tailored to look for heart disease, aneurysms of the aorta or pulmonary emboli. Chest CT scans are also used to look for the spread or recurrence of cancer.
A CT scan of the chest will evaluate:
Lungs: pneumonia, emphysema, lung scarring, pleural effusion (fluid on the lungs), pneumothorax (air leak), and lung cancer.
Mediastinum: abnormalities of the heart, vessels and the esophagus.
Bones: abnormalities concerning the ribs, sternum and the spine, such as fractures of these bones, tumors, infection or degenerative changes.
Please bring any related exams you may have with you on the day of your examination
There is often no preparation required for a CT scan. However, depending on the area of the body being examined you may be asked to fast for a period of time before your scan. For some examinations of the abdomen, you may be given some water or a special drink (x-ray contrast) before your scan. You will be advised by our reception staff if you require any special preparation when you make your appointment. Please inform us if you are taking any medication, have kidney disease, or have had a previous reaction to x-ray contrast. In case you have a history of allergy please contact our clinic or your physician to obtain additional details of your preparation.
You will be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and wear a gown. You may also be asked to remove jewelry or any metal objects that might affect the CT images. You will then be asked to lie on a table which is moved into the center of the scanner. During the examination the scanner will rotate around the part of the body to be examined but will not touch you. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds during the scan. Some CT examinations require an injection of a special contrast, which contains iodine, to enhance a particular body part or structure. Without this injection some important abnormalities may go undetected. The contrast or dye is usually injected into a vein in your arm. It is quite common to experience a warm flush and/or a metallic taste in your mouth. Occasionally some patients may experience transient nausea or an itchy rash. These side effects, if they occur, do not last very long. Other more severe allergic reactions are extremely rare. In case you have a known allergy, special medications will be given to you to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Please inform the technologist if you think you might be pregnant before your scan.