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Chest CT - About the Exam

Chest CT imaging can detect various lung disorders, including lung cancer, pneumonia, tuberculosis, emphysema, metastatic disease, and some autoimmune disorders. CT imaging is also used for the detection and surveillance of lung nodules.

Chest CT exam also helps 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.

What you can expect during a chest CT:

  • You will be asked to lie on the examination table, where you will likely be positioned on your back.
  • The technologist will give you specific breathing instructions for the scan, and you may be asked to hold your breath for a short time.
  • The table will start moving, first slowly and then relatively more rapidly when the actual CT is performed.
  • 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 a chest CT.

Learn the benefits and risks of chest CT.

Watch the CT - What to Expect Video.