What is a chest CT?

CT scan of the chest is a special test used primarily to examine the lungs for disease.

It is usually a high resolution scan performed without contrast to evaluate malignancy (cancer), chronic lung conditions and lung infections.

Why would you need a chest CT?

A chest CT is a useful investigation for those patients with chronic lung conditions, such as:

  • Restrictive lung disease (e.g. fibrosing alveolitis)
  • Chronic lung infections (such as those associated with bronchiectasis)
  • Lung scarring (e.g. asbestosis)
  • Lung malignancy
  • Chronic lung disease secondary to smoking (obstructive lung disease)

It is useful in defining lung masses and cavitating lesions in the lung to determine the probable cause (e.g. tumour, infection).

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How is a chest CT performed?

A chest CT is performed in the radiology department scanning room, with the patient lying flat (supine) on a CT table.

The head is placed in a comfortable ‘docking pillow’ and the CT scanner gantry (donut) passes over and around the patient to perform the scan.

The gantry travels over the patient from the neck to the abdomen to create the scan.

Timing is essential and the radiographer will use instructions to indicate when to breathe in, breath out or hold breath.
Intravenous contrast is not used.

Chest CT results explained

A chest CT is interpreted by an experienced radiologist. The radiologist can define the lung lesions and the state of the lungs and surrounding structures.

Related specialists

Related procedures

  • CT guided biopsy of lung mass

Related tests

Also known as

  • HRCT chest (High resolution CT scan chest)



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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.

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