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Chest CT scan: what is it and when to have it

CT (Scan of the Chest)  is a non-invasive diagnostic examination that allows for the analysis of the health status of specific anatomical sections. This examination reveals a series of three-dimensional images of the area of interest within seconds through the use of X-rays.

CT scan of the chest is a type of CT scan that allows for the evaluation, with or without contrast medium, of the health status of the anatomical structures in the chest area: lungs, heart, aorta, pulmonary artery, and bony structures (ribs, sternum, spine).

Undergoing a CT scan of the lungs is very important for understanding the origin of symptoms such as cough, chest pain, and dyspnea. With this type of examination, we can detect lung tumors along with their severity and subsequently plan a radiotherapy treatment.

The chest CT scan assesses any thoracic lesions in the organs of the heart and lungs, as well as in the large blood vessels of the chest, ribs, sternum, and segment of the spine.

Thanks to this type of examination, we can quickly determine the presence or absence of infectious or inflammatory lung diseases, lung lesions, or cardiovascular diseases. Lung CT scan, in fact, represents one of the most suitable diagnostic tests to detect possible lung diseases including pneumonia, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis, bronchitis, or pulmonary fibrosis.

CT scan of the chest with and without contrast medium

A CT scan of the chest is a non-invasive examination but may not always be feasible for every patient. The use of contrast medium, in fact, prevents certain individuals from undergoing this type of analysis. Lung CT scan is contraindicated for pregnant or breastfeeding women, obese individuals, those with renal insufficiency, or potential allergic reactions to the contrast medium.

Before proceeding, the patient must provide the doctor with a series of information to ensure suitability for undergoing a lung CT scan. In particular, the individual must report if they are taking medications that may alter the outcome of the examination; past or current heart, thyroid, or kidney diseases; diabetes or asthma disorders. Even in the case of severe claustrophobia or panic attacks, it is advisable to inform the doctor before the start of the diagnostic examination.

Patients with a proven allergy to the contrast medium do not necessarily have to forgo undergoing this type of examination. The chest CT scan can still be performed by administering the individual with appropriate steroid medications with an antiallergic effect 12 hours before the examination.

Preparation guidelines: How is a lung CT scan performed

Once the patient’s suitability for undergoing a chest CT scan has been verified, they are required to remove jewelry and clothing with metal parts, as they could interfere with the proper functioning of the diagnostic equipment. The patient must arrive fasting for at least 6 to 8 hours and must not consume caffeinated beverages or supplements in the 24 hours prior to the examination.

Like any type of CT scan, the chest CT scan also requires the complete immobility of the patient during the examination and the administration of iodine-based contrast medium. Possible methods of administration are oral, by injection, or via an enema. After allowing sufficient time for the contrast medium to distribute throughout the various anatomical parts, the patient is placed on the sliding bed and introduced into the gantry. From this moment, the patient must remain still for the minutes required to obtain the diagnostic evaluation images. Once the examination is completed, the patient can return to their daily activities.

The examination has a total duration of approximately 20-30 minutes, and the results are available to the patient a few days after the diagnostic analysis.

To completely remove the contrast medium from the body, it takes about 24 hours, and to facilitate its elimination, it is recommended to drink plenty of water.

Chest CT scan at MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini”

At MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini,” the chest CT scan is performed using state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, namely the 128-slice CT scanner. What distinguishes this equipment is its extraordinary speed in executing the process and reconstructing images. Furthermore, it ensures high-quality images even with a low dose of radiation administered to the patient.

To undergo a lung CT scan, a reservation is necessary. To make an appointment, you can write an email to, call our secretary at the number 0587.609134, or fill out the form below.

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