Computed Tomography, CT or CAT scanning is advanced radiological imaging that uses an x-ray beam that rotates around the patient to capture pictures inside the body. CT images are useful in studies of internal organs because they can separate overlapping structures precisely, producing cross-sectional images of all parts of the body. CT is commonly used for studies of the head, spine, abdomen, pelvis and chest. The CT scanner also is useful in determining the size and volume of tumors and other masses. This is especially helpful for cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy or surgery.
The CT procedure is fast and painless (although some patients experience a warm sensation if their study includes a contrast agent). Patients lie down on a padded table which slowly enters the doughnut-
shaped ring of the scanner. X-rays pass through the body and are detected by electronic sensors.
Information from these sensors is digitally processed and displayed as an image on a computer monitor.
A contrast agent may be administered to outline blood vessels or enhance organ images. If a contrast material is used, it will be either ingested and/or injected via an intravenous injection into a vein, usually in the arm.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I get screened for lung cancer?
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Annual screening with computed tomography (CT) scans can find lung cancers in their earliest stage, when the cancer is easier to treat. Results from the National Lung Screening Trial showed that among people at high risk for developing lung cancer, those screened with low-dose CT scans showed a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer-related mortality compared to those who were screened with standard chest X-rays.
What is lung CT screening?
CT screening is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Low-dose multi-detector CT scans are the most advanced form of CT scans and offer quick and accurate visualization of internal organs.
CT screening addresses an urgent need for improved lung cancer screening and early diagnosis of disease, when it is most treatable. A CT scan is able to detect small nodules that cannot be detected by a chest X-ray.
Who should get CT lung screening?
People between the ages of 55–77 with a 30 pack-year* smoking history who are current smokers or who quit fewer than 15 years ago may be eligible for CT screening. Your doctor or a member of our program can assist in determining if CT lung screening is appropriate for you.
* Pack year is a measurement of smoking. One pack year equals 365 packs of cigarettes (smoking 1 pack per day).
What are the risks of CT screening?
CT screening for lung cancer is safe and non-invasive; however, there are some risks associated with the screening study.
Radiation Dose: To minimize the amount of radiation exposure to patients, our radiologists use a special low-dose protocol.
False Positives: The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) found that approximately 25 percent of patients who have CT screening have a positive screen, meaning that a nodule is found in the lung. The
vast majority of these nodules are benign (not cancer), which means that most positive screening studies will be a “false positive.” Additional testing is often necessary to determine which nodules represent lung cancer.
What is the cost of a lung CT screening exam?
CT screening for lung cancer is currently covered for Medicare patients meeting high-risk eligibility criteria. Many health care plans now also cover the screening study for appropriate individuals. A discussion with your physician or one of our screening program specialists can help determine if CT screening is right for you.
What should I expect on the day of screening?
•Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. When you register, you will be asked to verify your physician and personal information.
•The CT exam will be read by one of our expert radiologists with specialty training in lung imaging.
•The exam does not require blood work or I.V. placement.
•The screening exam takes about 10 seconds, during which you are asked to hold your breath in order to limit motion of the lungs.
•After the exam is completed, you will meet with a specialist in the Lung Cancer Screening Clinic to receive the results of the screening that same day, before you leave the clinic.
For more information or to request a lung CT screening study, please contact us: 619-269-1299