Chest CT (Computed Tomography)

What is a CT scan of the chest?

CT scan is a type of imaging test. It uses X-ray and computer technology to make detailed pictures of the organs and structures inside your chest. These images are more detailed than regular X-rays. They can give more information about injuries or diseases of the chest organs.

In a CT scan, an X-ray beam moves in a circle around your body. It takes many images, called slices, of the lungs and inside the chest. A computer processes these images and displays it on a monitor.

During the test, you may receive a contrast dye. This will make parts of your body show up better in the image.

Other related procedures that may be used to diagnose problems of the lungs and respiratory tract include bronchoscopy, bronchography, chest fluoroscopy, chest X-ray, chest ultrasound, lung biopsy, lung scan, mediastinoscopy, oximetry, peak flow measurement, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, pleural biopsy, pulmonary angiogram, pulmonary function tests, sinus X-ray and thoracentesis.

Why might I need a CT scan of the chest?

A CT scan of the chest may be done to check the chest and its organs for:

  • Blockages
  • Injuries
  • Intrathoracic bleeding
  • Infections
  • Other health problems
  • Tumors and other lesions
  • Unexplained chest pain

A CT scan may be done when another type of exam, such as an X-ray or physical exam, is not conclusive.

This test may also be used to guide needles during biopsies of thoracic organs or tumors. A biopsy is when a small piece of tissue is removed so it can be examined in the lab. CT scans can also be done to help remove a sample of fluid from the chest. They are useful in keeping an eye on tumors and other conditions of the chest before and after treatment.