A CT scan of the chest is a quick and painless test that uses x-rays to create detailed images of the inside of the chest.
The test takes only a few minutes and there is no radiation involved. You can usually leave the hospital the same day.
The images from the test are stored on a computer and will be available for you to view at a later date.
How long does a CT scan of the chest take?
The time it takes to complete a CT scan depends on the type of test you have and your general health.
It can vary between a few minutes and an hour, but it may not be long enough to capture all of the details.
As such, it’s essential to allow plenty of time for the test.
How long do you stay in the hospital after a CT scan of the chest?
Your doctor may recommend that you stay in the hospital for a few hours after the test. This is to help your body recover from the test and to monitor you for any lasting effects.
Depending on the reason for the CT scan, you may also need to stay in the hospital for a few days or even a week.
What happens after a CT scan of the chest?
After your CT scan, you should be able to go home the same day.
If the test results show that you have something serious, like a lung tumor, your doctor may want to monitor you for a longer period.
Some people also need to stay in the hospital after a CT scan because they have had recent chest surgery.
The test may also be used to help find signs of lung cancer in people who have already been diagnosed with the condition.
If there is a small amount of fluid leaking from your chest, you may need to stay in the hospital for a few days.
If there is a large amount of fluid leaking from your chest, you may need to stay in the hospital for a few weeks.
What are the risks associated with a CT scan of the chest?
CT scans are a safe procedure, but they do carry some risks.
- Allergic reaction to the contrast material
- An allergic reaction to the iodine used with the contrast material
- Kidney problems
- Low blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- An asthma attack
- Blurred vision
What do the CT scan results mean?
The results of your CT scan will show your doctor if you have lung cancer or a related lung condition.
It will also provide some important information about the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to nearby areas of your chest.
If your CT scan shows a tumor, your doctor will need to do further tests to determine whether the tumor is cancerous.
If the results show that you have lung cancer or a related lung condition, your doctor will discuss the next steps and discuss your treatment options.
They will also discuss the risks and benefits of any treatment that you may need.
Can a CT scan of the chest be used to help find other health problems?
If the results of your CT scan show that you have lung cancer or a related lung condition, your doctor may want to use it to find other health problems that may be causing your symptoms.
This is called a “follow-up” test.
The tests may also be used to help diagnose some problems like tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Your doctor may also want to use a CT scan to find tumors and determine the size of them.
How long does it take for my lung cancer to spread?
It can take months for lung cancer to spread.
It starts out as a small tumor in the lungs and then grows until it has the capacity to cause breathing problems.
It may also spread into nearby areas of the chest.
The spread of cancer depends on your general health, including whether you’re taking any medications.
For example, the medication pemetrexed (Alimta) can help treat lung cancer that has spread to the bone.
In this case, it can help stop lung cancer from spreading.
However, it’s possible that it can cause side effects, so you may want to discuss the risks and benefits of taking pemetrexed with your doctor.
What are the tests that my doctor may use for a follow-up CT scan?
Your doctor may recommend regular follow-up tests to determine whether your lung cancer has spread.
Depending on the results of these tests, you may need to meet with your doctor to discuss the next steps.
Your doctor may use one or more of the following tests:
- CT scan
- Chest X-ray
- MRI scan
- PET scan
- Blood tests
- Bone marrow aspiration
The tests may also be used to find signs of other health problems that may be causing your symptoms.
For example, if you have lung cancer that has spread to your bone, your doctor may use a CT scan to find signs in the bone.
They may also use a CT scan to look for signs in the liver, pancreas, and adrenal glands.
How can I prepare for a follow-up CT scan?
If you’re having a follow-up test, you may need to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle.
- Stopping smoking
- Quitting if you smoke
- Avoiding environmental pollutants
- Eating a diet that’s low in salt and fat
- Drinking enough fluids to keep your body properly hydrated
- Getting regular exercise
- Avoiding high-heat activities like using a fan and air conditioning
What happens after a follow-up CT scan?
After your follow-up test, you may need to meet with your doctor to discuss the next steps.
If your results show that you still have lung cancer, your doctor may recommend that you have it removed.
In some cases, they may also recommend that you have radiation treatment to kill the cancer cells.
If your doctor recommends that you have radiation treatment, you may need to meet with a radiation oncologist or radiation therapist to learn how to prepare for the treatment and what to expect.
Now over to you
If you have a follow-up CT scan, leave this article with some helpful information.
Your doctor can help you understand your results and what they mean.
They can also help you learn what to expect after your follow-up test.
Keep in mind that it can take time for a CT scan to show new or changing health problems.
It can take weeks, months, or years for you to see any changes.
The medical information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Images by Freepik
Generated by AI