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CT Scan

A CT scan, sometimes called a CAT scan, uses special x-ray equipment to create highly detailed images of internal organs. An x-ray tube rotates around your body, scanning it with x-rays. Imagine your body as a loaf of bread and you are looking at one end of the loaf. As you remove each slice of bread you can see the entire surface of that slice. Your body is seen on CT scan pictures in a similar way.

Lung Cancer Screening CT

For some patients, CT may also be recommended for lung cancer screening. To find potentially cancerous nodules early, which greatly increases the chance of survival, doctors must be able to see them and CT lung screening is the test than can do that.

We recommend a yearly CT lung cancer screening for at-risk patients. Eligibility requirements for insurance are:

  • 55-76 years of age
  • Current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years
  • Smoked at least 30 pack years (pack years = cigarettes per day x years smoked divided by 20)
  • Have not had a history of lung cancer or any lung cancer symptoms

If you believe you are at risk for lung cancer, discuss your smoking history and other risk factors with you primary care provider.


Depending on the CT exam ordered, you may be given an injection of contrast (which we sometimes call x-ray dye) through an IV in your arm while we take your pictures. This contrast shows up white on your CT scan images allowing us to take a better look at your organs inside. You may be instructed to not eat or drink anything the night before your test.

Important things to tell your technologist:

  • Symptoms you are having
  • If you have a known allergy to x-ray dye
  • If you become anxious in confined spaces or are claustrophobic (note: most
  • patients do well with this exam and this is not usually an issue)
  • If you are pregnant
  • Any previous exams of the area being tested
  • Any previous surgeries of the area being tested
  • Any allergies you may have

Some specific reasons this test may be used:

  • To determine the presence or spread of cancer
  • Blood clots
  • Kidney function
  • Renal disease
  • Spine fractures
  • Brain bleed or stroke
  • Sinus disease
  • Tumors
  • Abdominal disease

Note: The imaging staff is trained to acquire images for a radiologist to review. The radiologist is specially trained to look at x-ray studies and make a diagnosis off of them. The imaging staff is not fully trained to do so, therefore we will not be able to give you results at the time of your exam.

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