Computed tomography (CT) of the chest uses special x-ray equipment to examine abnormalities found in other imaging tests and to help diagnose the cause of unexplained cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever and other chest symptoms. CT scanning is fast, painless, noninvasive and accurate. Because it is able to detect very small nodules in the lung, chest CT is especially effective for diagnosing lung cancer at its earliest, most curable stage.
Tell your doctor if there is a possibility you are pregnant and discuss any recent illnesses, medical conditions, medications you are taking, and allergies. You will be instructed not to eat or drink anything for a few hours beforehand. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. These medications must be taken beginning 12 hours prior to your exam. Leave jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown.
You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. You may need to wear a gown during the procedure
Metal objects, including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins, may affect the CT images. Leave them at home or remove them prior to your exam. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids and removable dental work. Women will be asked to remove bras containing metal underwire. You may be asked to remove any piercings, if possible.
You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for a few hours beforehand, if contrast material will be used in your exam. You should inform your physician of all medications you are taking and if you have any allergies. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, your doctor may prescribe medications (usually a steroid) to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. To avoid unnecessary delays, contact your doctor before the exact time of your exam.
Also inform your doctor of any recent illnesses or other medical conditions and whether you have a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems. Any of these conditions may increase the risk of an adverse effect.
Women should always inform their physician and the CT technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant.
CT exams are generally painless, fast and easy. With multidetector CT, the amount of time that the patient needs to lie still is reduced.
Though the scan is painless, you may have some discomfort from remaining still for several minutes or from placement of an IV. If you have a hard time staying still, are very nervous, anxious or in pain, you may find a CT exam stressful. The technologist or nurse, under the direction of a doctor, may offer you some medication to help you tolerate the CT exam.
If an intravenous contrast material is used, you will feel a pin prick when the needle is inserted into your vein. You may feel warm or flushed while the contrast is injected. You also may have a metallic taste in your mouth. This will pass. You may feel a need to urinate. However, this is a contrast effect and subsides quickly.
When you enter the CT scanner, you may see special light lines projected onto your body. These lines are used to ensure that you are properly positioned. With modern CT scanners, you may hear slight buzzing, clicking and whirring sounds. These occur as the CT scanner's internal parts, not usually visible to you, revolve around you during the imaging process.
You will be alone in the exam room during the CT scan, unless there are special circumstances. For example, sometimes a parent wearing a lead shield may stay in the room with their child. However, the technologist will always be able to see, hear and speak with you through a built-in intercom system.
After a CT exam, the technologist will remove the intravenous line used to inject the contrast material. The tiny hole made by the needle will be covered with a small dressing. You can return to your normal activities.
Search Results Featured snippet from the web A CT scan of the chest with contrast takes about 40 minutes. This includes 20 minutes for the test and 20 minutes for preparation.
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Your scan results won't usually be available immediately. ... After analysing the images, the radiologist will write a report and send it to the doctor who referred you for the scan so they can discuss the results with you. This normally takes a few days or weeks.
CT is fast, which is important for patients who have trouble holding their breath.
- CT is widely available.
- CT scanning is painless, noninvasive and accurate.
- A major advantage of CT is its ability to image bone, soft tissue and blood vessels all at the same time.
- Unlike conventional x-rays, CT scanning provides very detailed images of many types of tissue as well as the lungs, bones, and blood vessels.
- CT examinations are fast and simple; in emergency cases, they can reveal internal injuries and bleeding quickly enough to help save lives.
- CT has been shown to be a cost-effective imaging tool for a wide range of clinical problems.
- CT is less sensitive to patient movement than MRI.
- CT can be performed if you have an implanted medical device of any kind, unlike MRI.
- CT imaging provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and needle aspirations of many areas of the body, particularly the lungs, abdomen, pelvis and bones.
- A diagnosis determined by CT scanning may eliminate the need for exploratory surgery and surgical biopsy.
- No radiation remains in a patient's body after a CT examination.
- X-rays used in CT scans should have no immediate side effects.
- Low-dose CT scans of the chest use a lower dose of radiation than conventional chest CT.
Chest CT is used to:
- examine abnormalities found on conventional chest x-rays.
- help diagnose the causes of clinical signs or symptoms of disease of the chest, such as cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or fever.
- detect and evaluate the extent of tumors that arise in the chest, or tumors that have spread there from other parts of the body.
- assess whether tumors are responding to treatment.
- help plan radiation therapy.
- evaluate injury to the chest, including the heart, blood vessels, lungs, ribs and spine.
- evaluate abnormalities of the chest found on fetal ultrasound examinations.
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