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Computed Tomography (CT)

What is CT?

CT is a specialised type of x-ray test which takes images from around the body. The images allow radiologists to look at cross-sections through the body. In contrast, to an ordinary chest x-ray, which gives a 2-dimensional image, CT pictures provide significantly more information.

I know that I will have to lie down. Will I feel claustrophobic?

It is unlikely that you will feel claustrophobic while having a CT scan. The scanning ‘tunnel’ of a CT machine is significantly thinner in comparison with an MRI machine. Accordingly, the vast majority of patients do not report feeling claustrophobic when having a CT scan.

How long will the scan take and do I need to lie still?

Modern CT machines are exceedingly fast so that the whole chest can be scanned during a single breath-hold. You will need to lie still while scanning takes place and the radiographer will remind you about this. It is important to keep still just as you need to keep still for photographs – any movement during scanning can mean that the images will be blurred and the study may need to be repeated.

I have been told that I might need an injection of a dye. Is this correct?

Yes. Depending on the question(s) being asked, we may need to inject a dye (called ‘contrast’) into one of the veins in your arm. The contrast flows in and highlights blood vessels. This helps the radiologist which interpreting the scan.

The dye is very safe and only very rarely causes problems (e.g. allergic reaction). Most patients notice a warm feeling after the contrast is injected. This is completely normal and will wear-off within a few minutes.

How soon after the scan will I get the result?

All radiology studies in the Lung Health Group are reviewed by expert thoracic radiologists, who will provide their opinion (in the form of a report) to the doctor who referred you for the study. The radiologist and clinician may also discuss the findings at a specialist multidisciplinary meeting, at which time your case — particularly if complex —can be discussed in detail. Your doctor will then present the findings of all tests with you before recommending the appropriate treatment.