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About the Scan – Chest CT Scan

SMIL performs chest CT scans to detect various lung disorders, including lung cancer, pneumonia, tuberculosis, emphysema, COPD, or inflammation. Low dose CT is also used for the detection and surveillance of lung nodules.

In July 2013 the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended annual low dose CT scans to screen for lung cancer in high risk smokers (aged 55 to 80 who smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years including those who quit less than 15 years ago). When detected early lung cancer is more treatable and survival rates improve significantly. This screening could apply to about nine million Americans and may prevent as many as 20,000 deaths a year from lung cancer.

Chest CT scans also help SMIL radiologists to:

  • further examine abnormalities found on conventional chest x-rays.
  • help diagnose the cause 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 blood vessels, lungs, ribs and spine.
  • further evaluate abnormalities of the chest found on fetal ultrasound examinations.

During the chest CT scan, the SMIL technologist begins by positioning you on the CT examination table, usually lying flat on your back or less commonly, on your side or on your stomach.

If contrast material is used, it may be swallowed, or injected through an intravenous line (IV), depending on the type of examination.

You may be asked to hold your breath during the scanning. Any motion, whether breathing or body movements, can lead to artifacts on the images. This loss of image quality can resemble the blurring seen on a photograph taken of a moving object.

When the examination is completed, you will be asked to wait until the technologist verifies that the images are of high enough quality for accurate interpretation. The CT examination is usually completed within 30 minutes.

Learn how to prepare for the scan in the chest CT scan preparations section.

Learn more in the benefits and risks of chest CT scan section.

For a downloadable/printable PDF about this exam with preparation instructions click here.

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