What is a CT of the chest?

CT (Computed Tomography) of the chest is a diagnostic test that allows processing of images of anatomical sections through X-rays. In general, images that are obtained in this way show the parenchyma and major vessels contained in the chest.  An x-ray tube, mounted in an open structure front and back, rotates around the patient lying on a bed. The information is collected and processed digitally. 

What is the purpose of a chest CT?

The chest CT allows one to investigate the potential presence of any diseases when the simple X-ray is not sufficient.


A CT scan is useful in cases of:

  • Infectious diseases of the lungs, such as pneumonia, bronchopneumonia, pleurisy, tuberculosis.
  • Inflammatory diseases (COPD, asthma etc).
  • Bronchitis resistant to drug therapies.
  • Abscesses and interstitial inflammation.
  • Autoimmune diseases of the lungs.
  • Pleural (even mild).
  • Lung lesions of neoplastic nature.


For classification of cardiovascular diseases:

  • For the study of the great vessels such as the pulmonary artery, ascending aorta, aortic arch.
  • For the study of the pulmonary arteries, to rule out pulmonary embolism, especially in case of emergencies.


Preparation standards

The examination can be performed with or without administration of iodinated contrast agent intravenously. The patient is required to fast from solid foods six hours before the examination, if it is run with contrast. Normal hydration with water is allowed. The patient is also required to undergo specific blood tests before the exam to assess the kidney and liver function and thus the patient’s ability to discard the contrast material after the exam. The patient is not required to discontinue any drug therapies, particularly the ones used for blood pressure. All other information is presented on the day of the exam.


Which patients can undergo the exam?

The use of contrast material is not recommended for people with allergic reactions or severe renal impairment. The CT scan is not recommended for pregnant women.


Is the exam dangerous or painful?

The exam is generally painless. The patient will experience only a slight noise of the machine. The only discomfort corresponds to the injection of the contrast medium, injected intravenously, which can cause a sensation of heat. The machine for the CT scan is an open tube, which does not cause problems of claustrophobia.


How is the exam performed?

The patient lies on a bed that moves horizontally in an open tube. To obtain quality images, it is necessary that the patient remain still for the whole duration of the examination. The average duration of the CT scan is about five minutes.