Chest CT Scan

What is a Chest CT?

A chest CT, sometimes referred to as CAT scan of the chest, is a diagnostic exam using high speed x-rays and a computer to produce images or thin cuts or slices through your chest.  This exam is performed to diagnose many very detailed disorders or injuries within the chest or lungs.

How is the examination performed?

All you will need to do is lie down on your back and be completely motionless for about 3-10 minutes.  This examination may involve an injection of contrast into a vein in your hand or arm.  The contrast is used to better visualize the blood flow in the chest, thus enhancing certain disorders.  The Technologist performing your exam will go over a consent form that requires your signature and he/she will explain the contrast injection in detail.

 Who is a candidate for a Chest CT?

Some symptoms may include, but are not limited to, chest pain, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath.  Some have this exam to follow lung nodules, pneumonia, masses or cancers, and even pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) in the lung.

Will I need to prepare for the exam?

Yes, please do not eat or drink 4 hours prior to your exam if ordered with contrast.  Avoid wearing any metal objects near your chest, such as necklaces or shirts with metal snaps.

*If ordered with contrast, a creatinine blood test is required for anyone that:

  1. Is over 60 years old.
  2. Is diabetic.
  3. Has renal insufficiency.
  4. Has Chronic Heart Failure.

 *Please have your lab work done at least 24 hours prior to your scheduled CT scan; preferably within 30 days of your exam.

What will I experience?

A Registered Technologist will be performing your exam and can answer any questions you may have.  You will be asked to lie down on your back on the table.  If your exam is going to need contrast the Technologist will start an intravenous (IV) access line in your arm or hand in order to be able to inject the x-ray contrast.  If no contrast is needed only one set of images will be acquired, lasting about 3 minutes. If contrast is needed, multiple sets of images will be acquired, lasting about 10 minutes.  Following the images, if you had an injection, the IV will be removed and you are done.

What happens next?

Your images will be analyzed by the Technologist and sent to the Radiologist’s computer for interpretation. Your images will be interpreted by a State of New Mexico licensed and board certified Physician, Radiologist, specialized in radiology interpretation.  A report will be recorded and transcribed then sent to your Physician within 24 hours who will explain the results to you.