How long does chest ct scan take?

Most patients do not require more than one scan due to the short duration of the procedure.

The scan generally takes less than 30 minutes to complete.

The number of scans a patient requires will vary based on the type of test performed and whether more than one region of the body is being scanned.

If you have any concerns about the scan, you should ask your doctor about the procedure or ask to speak to a specialist.

What happens during a chest ct scan?

You will be asked to change into a gown and lie on an examination table. If additional scans are required, you will be asked to remain in the same position throughout the procedure.

A contrast agent will be injected into a vein in your arm. This process is called a “contrast injection.” You may feel a sting or a prick when the contrast agent is injected. The contrast agent will remain in your veins for about 15 minutes. The test is complete when the contrast agent has completely left the vein.

A chest ct scan will be performed by a technologist. The technologist will place the imaging device on your chest, and ask you to hold still for the scan. You may hear a buzzing noise as the equipment performs the scan. The technologist will be standing beside the table and will watch your heart while the scan is performed.

The technologist will take pictures of your heart and lungs, and send the images to a computer. The results will be displayed on a monitor.

What are the risks of a chest ct scan?

A chest ct scan carries minimal risk. Possible risks include:

  • Allergic reaction to the contrast agent
  • Bleeding from the vein
  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Unintended injury to the heart
  • Unintended movement of the scan device
  • Injury from the device crashing into the body
  • Unintended movement of the table

The risks associated with CT scans are generally lower than with an MRI, so the benefits of a CT scan vs. an MRI generally outweigh the risks.

What do the results mean?

The test results are available in as little as 5 minutes. The radiologist will discuss what the results mean with you.

If you are diagnosed with a heart condition, the results can be used to guide your treatment.

An abnormal heart scan may be normal, indicating no heart condition. This is called a “normal” or “negative” scan.

A heart scan may be abnormal, indicating a heart problem. This is called a “positive” or “abnormal” scan.

How do I get the results?

In most cases, the results will be available within 5 to 10 minutes after the scan. If more time is needed for the results, the technologist should contact you.

If you are having a test to determine if you have a heart condition, the results will be used to guide your care.

In some cases, your results could take longer to be available. If that is the case, the results will be available within a few days.

What do I do with the results?

The results are used by your doctor to help make treatment decisions and determine if you have a heart condition.

If you need a heart scan, your doctor will discuss the results with you. They will explain what the results mean and the next steps.

The results of a chest ct scan can be used to help determine:

  • If you have a heart condition
  • If you need treatment for a heart condition
  • If you need a heart transplant

The ct scan also helps your doctor plan for your follow-up care.

How often do I need a chest ct scan?

Most patients do not need any additional scans. If additional scans are required, they will be discussed with you by your doctor.

If you have a heart condition, you may need additional tests to determine if you need treatment.

What is the goal of a chest ct scan?

The goal of a chest ct scan is to assess your heart function.

The test can help your doctor determine:

  • Whether the heart is normal
  • Whether your heart is enlarged
  • Whether your heart is functioning abnormally
  • Whether you need treatment for a heart condition

The test can help your doctor plan for your follow-up care.

How should chest ct scan results be interpreted?

If you have a positive scan, your doctor will discuss the results with you. They will explain what the results mean and the next steps.

The results of a negative or abnormal scan may be used by your doctor to guide your care.

If your results are abnormal, your doctor will discuss the results with you. They will explain what the results mean and the next step.

The results of a chest ct scan are usually reported as a normal, abnormal, or indeterminate scan. An abnormal scan is defined as:

  • Normal
  • Abnormal
  • Indeterminate

How is a chest ct scan performed?

A chest ct scan is performed as an outpatient procedure. This means you will not have to stay in the hospital.

You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the scan.

If you are a small person, your doctor may ask you to remove clothing from the waist up.

You will be asked to lie on the bed. The scan technician will position the imaging device on your chest, and will ask you to hold still for the scan.

You may hear a buzzing noise as the equipment performs the scan.

The technologist will be standing beside the table and will watch your heart while the scan is performed.

Bottom line

A chest ct is a diagnostic test that can assess the health of your heart’s chambers and valves.

The test is performed as an outpatient procedure, which means you will not need to stay in the hospital.

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