CT Chest without Contrast
CT (Computed Tomography) scan is an imaging modality that uses a series of X-rays taken from different angles and a computer to create cross-sectional images of internal body organs, bones, and soft tissues. A chest CT scan is performed to visualize structures in your chest from multiple angles. These structures include; the chest wall (bones and muscles), lungs and pleura (covering sheath of the lungs), heart and pericardium (covering sheath of the heart), lymph nodes, and blood vessels, including the aorta.
A contrast material is often used to enhance image quality, but it is not used in CT scans without contrast.
Why and when do you need this test?
Your doctor may advise this test if you have signs and symptoms of a disease related to the organs and structures of the chest. Or some deranged results of other medical tests that may need further evaluation.
Some of the indications for performing a chest CT scan include the following;
- Findings on the chest X-ray
- Chest trauma
- Difficulty breathing
- Lung infections (COVID-19) or abscesses
- Chronic lung diseases (bronchiectasis)
- Suspicion of a tumor/cancer in any of the chest organ
- Any nodules or fluid collection is seen on X-ray
- Abnormalities of the heart and aorta,
- Esophageal disorders,
- Staging of cancers,
- For guiding other thoracic interventions like a biopsy, drainage, etc.
Do you need to prepare for the test?
- You can drink or normally eat unless advised by your doctor otherwise.
- Take advice from your doctor about your daily medications.
What can you expect?
- You will be asked to lie down on the table that will slide into the CT scan machine that looks like a large donut with a tunnel.
- You need to lie down still and not move to prevent the images from getting blurry.
- You will be alone in the room but under the constant care of a technician across the glass window who will be talking to you.
- It is a painless procedure that lasts for about 15-30 minutes but may take longer.
Are there any risks to this test?
It is a non-invasive test that uses low doses of X-rays that poses no risks. Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or have kidney disease.
What do the test results mean?
A radiologist who is an expert in interpreting CT scans will send a signed report to your doctor. Your doctor could tell you if the report shows any abnormality that may be causing your symptoms.
Some of the abnormal results may include the following;
- Small airway disease, COPD, bronchiectasis
- Pulmonary nodules, mediastinal or chest wall masses
- Lung cancer
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Pulmonary embolism
- Rib fractures
- Structural heart defects,
- Heart tumors,
- Aortic tear or aneurysm,
- Fluid around the heart or lungs,
- Esophageal cancer, etc.
Other related tests may include:
- MRA (magnetic resonance angiography)
- HRCT chest (High-resolution computed tomography)
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