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CT scan of chest    

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CT scan or computerized tomography of the chest is a diagnostic procedure that involves a series of X rays of the chest bones and tissues in order to detect an underlying health problem.

Why a CT scan of chest is done?

Doctors suggest CT scan of the chest for the following reasons:

  • •It could be a follow up procedure to confirm presence of abnormalities found in preliminary X ray reports
  • •To check the structures of the chest including the lungs
  • •To detect the reasons associated with unexplained chest pain and shortness of breast
  • •To rule out lung complications like presence of tumour, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, tuberculosis, etc.
  • •To evaluate the post treatment effect of thoracic tumours
  • •It can detect a pneumothorax (air leak), fractures in chest bones or bleeding occurred from an accident
  • •It’s also done to check the lymph nodes, for heart disease, accumulation of fluid around the heart, aneurysms of the aorta, etc.

You doctor may advise CT scan of chest for many other reason as well.

How is it performed?

You will be lying down on the scanning table which slides through the “doughnut hole” or the opening of the scanning machine.

 X ray beam will move in a circle around your body. As the X rays are absorbed by your body, it will get detected by the scanner which will transmit the signals to the computer. This way detailed image of the organs and tissues of the thoracic cavity will be generated in 2D or 3D form.

Doctors might use a contrast dye which is either administered orally or intravenously to get better clarity in the scan results.

 Before the procedure

You need to tell your doctor about your medical history, the medicines you are taking and if you are allergic to dyes or medicines. Your schedule for medicines might be changed

You need to tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

Usually no change in food habits, fasting or change in general routine is needed unless you are given a contrast dye.

You need to take off your jewellery, piercings, belts, dentures, watches, glasses, or any other accessories or belongings

You will be asked to change your dress with a gown given by the nurse

During the procedure

You need to lie down still on the table on your back, with your arms above your head. Your body may be supported with pillows and stirrups. The technologist will be monitoring you constantly from the other room.

You can distinctly hear clicking and buzzing sounds when the scanner machine rotates. You may be asked to hold on your breath many times during the X-ray to avoid the images from getting blurred.

Mild sedation may also be given to kids if they can’t remain still.

When a contrast dye is injected intravenously, then you may feel flushed, nauseated or get an urge to vomit for some time.

Remember to communicate with the technician immediately on experiencing breathing problems, suffocation or heart palpitations.

After the procedure

The time taken for the CT may vary from 5 minutes to 45 minutes. You will be removed from the scanner and the IV line will be removed.

Usually after a chest CT scan, your doctor will ask you to wait for some time to ensure that you feel well. Apart from this, you need to drink lot of fluids to help your body flush out the dye.

You can resume normal work the day after.

Are there any risks associated?

Risks are minimum because your doctor will know if getting exposed to the radiation is safe for your or not. You will be guided through the safety measures and instruction before undergoing the test.

Some individuals might show allergic response to the dye.

Thus, you can see that CT scan of the chest is a confirmatory test for many health complications associated with the thoracic activity.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 17, 2015