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    What does a CT scan of the chest show?

    Posted by Ravi Sohal on Mon, May 24, 2010

    ct scan chest lungs heartCT scans are frequently used to evaluate the chest. A chest CT scan is frequently ordered to look at the lungs, heart and nearby tissues. It may be ordered after a chest x-ray shows a lung nodule or to evaluate pneumonia and other lung diseases such as emphysema. Some chest CT scans are tailored to look for heart disease, aneurysms of the aorta or pulmonary emboli. Chest CT scans are also used to look for the spread or recurrence of cancer.

    If you've been in an accident, a chest CT scan can detect a pneumothorax (air leak), fractures of the bones of the chest or bleeding.

    A CT scan of the chest will evaluate:


    A chest CT scan will detect pneumonia, emphysema, lung scarring, pleural effusion (fluid on the lungs), pneumothorax (air leak), and lung cancer.


    The mediastinum refers to the part of the chest that contains your heart, vessels and the esophagus.  The chest CT will detect lymph nodes, tumors in the chest, heart disease, pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart), aneurysms of the aorta and pulmonary emboli (these cause sudden shortness of breath). It can also detect tumors or inflammation of the esophagus.


    Your chest is protected by your ribs, sternum and the spine. A chest CT scan can detect fractures of these bones, tumors, infection or degenerative changes.

    Other structures

    A chest CT scan also includes parts of the upper abdomen and can pick up abnormalities of the liver, spleen and stomach.

    Your Chest CT Scan

    A chest CT generally takes about 5 minutes or so to complete.  Many chest CT scans are done with IV contrast.

    If you're insured, you may need to have your test authorized (approved) by your insurance company first. If you're uninsured use our website to look up Chest CT scan costs, find a certified imaging center and buy your test with a credit card.

    Have you had a Chest CT scan? What was it like? Please leave your comments below.



    yeasterday my wife had chest CT scan, and today saturday she experience severe etching on her neck, chest and all her back body. All night she was crying from discomfort itching. As of medical nerse at Handerson told her just to drink lot of liquid without explaining the hard effects of dye that they vere using. My idea is that in advance they should told her about sever itching. Now 1:AM moring I don`t know to confort her.

    posted @ Sunday, July 11, 2010 12:58 AM by michael tcholakian

    I had a CT chest scan with dye done yesterday. Drank plenty of water and have had no issues whatsoever with itching or irritation. The scan was quick and not half as scary as anticipated. Worst was setting the IV, and a short discomfort when dye was injected (weird warmth throughout body), but that lasted less than a minute.

    posted @ Wednesday, April 13, 2011 2:08 PM by D

    This is an allergic reaction 
    she needs to take benadryl and if symptoms are not relieved, seek medical treatment. 
    In the future she needs to let the technician know about this reaction as it could be much more serious than itching. 
    The fact that she was up all night crying with this should have been the first indication to seek medical treatment

    posted @ Saturday, October 22, 2011 6:17 AM by jackie

    i have shortness of breath for some time it started a few month ago i would get done biking and i would be out of breath for a wail 15 to 20 min. no it seems i am out of breath all the time i had a CT scan and nothing was found i had a stress test and that was fine what could it be??

    posted @ Monday, October 24, 2011 3:46 PM by james j masgula

    Have you doctor check you D vitamin level. I know it sound too simple. But it happened to me

    posted @ Tuesday, October 25, 2011 5:34 PM by L. Ruddy

    hi. i have had exactly the same. i am 45 and fit. Did the vitamin D fix the shortness of breath? I am also short in vitamin D. i am hoping you say yes. you could also ask your doctor for a blood test that shows Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency. if it is low it could be an indicator of genetic emphasyma. Unfortunately this may be what is causing my shortness of breath although emphasyma did not show up on a CT. best of luck

    posted @ Thursday, November 24, 2011 3:53 AM by Ed

    james j masgula. 
    I would seek another doctors opinion. My dad complained of shortness of breath for years and the doctors didn't listen. 
    They said his CT scan was normal. 
    The cardiologist told him his stress test was normal and sent him home. 
    He died less than 2 weeks after that visit, in September of this year, from heart failure. He was only 52, and I am only 17. I would hate for this to happen again. 
    Please seek a second opinion! It may be something that will affect you greatly, and doctors can overlook many things. If it turns out to be something a little less harmful, then you will be relieved. It is always better to arm yourself with information.

    posted @ Friday, November 25, 2011 3:08 AM by Rena

    I have been having chest pains and chills, always very tired, with no energy. Have seen on some web sites that doing a ct scan can increase your chance of cancer in the long run, so I am wondering what people think, if I should have it done or not as i have an appointment to have one done in a few weeks?? THanks

    posted @ Friday, January 06, 2012 2:03 PM by Mark Hilton

    can a ct scan see food stuck in your chest or chest cavity.

    posted @ Wednesday, February 08, 2012 7:48 PM by tammy

    I had a lumpectomy for breast cancer followed by 33 days of radiation. I am in my 4th year of survival and have done very well. Recently I had a cat scan of the chest with contrast that showed no abnormality in the lungs. However it did show an enlarged spleen and some cirrhosis of the liver. My blood platelets are extremely low. Have to see my oncologist in 3 months to follow up. He is more alarmed by the low blood platelets than anything else.

    posted @ Sunday, April 22, 2012 1:18 PM by Kathleen Cavanaugh

    I have been diagnosed with Lyme Disease and Asthmatic Bronchitis since the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Three weeks of anti-biotics and my breathing is still terrible. Finally getting wheened off of the Prednisone which didn't work and are now trying two different inhalers. Doctor just ordered a CT scan of my lungs. I'm worried that he's looking for cancer since I just had another "bad" mammogram and am scheduled for another lumpectomy soon. So, does this mean I may have cancer in my lungs? I am really nervous about this whole thing but I've never have hoarseness and coughing last this long and not react to Prednisone and antibiotics.

    posted @ Wednesday, June 20, 2012 7:41 AM by Lynne

    My Husband is going for a CT Scan on Friday [Chest] he is on Dialysis and has had Fluid on the Lungs so we are assuming it is because of this plus in January he had breathing problems again we assumed because of the Fluid however we will have to wait and see he is 71 Cheers Elaine

    posted @ Wednesday, June 20, 2012 3:54 PM by e hirst

    Lynne, I don't know if you will see this post, but people who have Lyme disease should not use steroids unless it is a life/death situation. Because steroids suppress the immune system, they can make Lyme symptoms much worse.  
    Besides Lyme disease, ticks can transmit many other infections including Babesiosis. This disease is similar to malaria and one of its hallmark symptoms is shortness of breath. It can also cause a cough. Have you been tested for all the co-infections: Babesiosis, Bartonella, Ehrlichiosis, and Mycoplasma?  
    It is very important to see a knowledgeable doctor. Many doctors do not treat long enough or with strong enough doses of antibiotics. If you need a recommendation, let me know. 

    posted @ Friday, July 06, 2012 8:58 PM by LymeBytes

    Thank you for your post, LymeBytes. I am going to a lung specialist in a little over a week. I will ask him about these other co-infections. Shortness of breath and cough are still with me and it's been since before Memorial Day weekend. It's getting old. Thanks again. 

    posted @ Thursday, July 12, 2012 7:31 AM by Lynne

    Hi Lynne. Do you ever have night sweats or heart palpitations?  
    I have Babesiosis and have shortness of breath and coughing. If you do not get any answers from the specialist, I highly recommend considering Babesiosis as a possibility. 
    I hope your upcoming appointment goes well. Please let me know how it goes.

    posted @ Friday, July 13, 2012 1:35 PM by LymeBytes

    I have night sweats and heart palpitations. I will definitely mention this to the doctor when I see him on Monday. Is there a cure for this? What do you do to control it?

    posted @ Monday, July 16, 2012 5:12 AM by Lynne

    Hi Lynne. I am not a doctor of course, but you have many of the hallmark symptoms of Babesiosis. 
    Were you tested for other tick-borne infections? How long were you on antibiotics? How long were you sick before you were diagnosed? 
    Unfortunately, many doctors under-treat tickborne diseases. It is very important to see a knowledgeable doctor and be evaluated for all infections.  
    Early infections are the easiest to cure. I cannot stress this enough. Once these diseases beome disseminated, they are much harder to eradicate.  
    Babesiosis is similar to malaria. It needs to be treated with a combination of an anti-malarial and a specific antibiotic. There is also an anti-malarial herb you can take to help with symptoms. 
    You can email me at for doctor recommendations for your area (there is an underscore after the ko). 
    Good luck on Monday!

    posted @ Tuesday, July 17, 2012 6:44 PM by LymeBytes

    I have shortness of breath, hand and finger swelling and stiffness as well as uncontrolled sweating. Always was a sweater but now all thee time sopping wet gross to my kids and extreme lethargy. I sleep all the time. I cannot get any relief from doctors. Just run around. Vit D dificiency and got script for that. Anyone please help me. I am deteriorating alone

    posted @ Wednesday, August 08, 2012 3:00 PM by erika

    hi, i'm a 44 year opld female. I have suffered from asthma since the age of 8 and have only ever had 1 attack 19 year's ago, but over the last 3 year's i have been getting chest infection's at least 6/7 time's a year and have to go on anti-biotic's and steriod's but this time i had pluracey ( which i have also had in the past )and i was on 2 different lot's of anti-biotic's because the pluracey went from 1 side to the other, after i had finished them i had an aching in my left side underneath my chest but no other pain otherwise, no cough or shortness of breath, my doctor sent me from an x-ray and i was contact by the surgery 2 day's later to go bak down and they could see something on the left side of my lung so now i have to go for a ct scan a week monday.... i am quiet concerned as i am a smoker ( yes i know the risk's but smoke 5 a day ), lately i have been having night sweat's and feeling quiet sick regular, i have niggling back pain but lately it's every day but i put this down to a slipped disk but i'm really scared coz it seem's every where i look there are cancer advert's everywhere, i think i just need a bit of reasurance xxxx

    posted @ Thursday, September 27, 2012 1:50 PM by diane evans

    Diane, All I can say is prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I've been fighting whatever I have since Memorial Day (my post is above). Medical issues are scary things - you just hope you have the right doctors who have the knowledge on how to treat your problem. Thoughts and prayers will be heading your way. Please let me know how it works out. Good luck.

    posted @ Friday, September 28, 2012 6:53 AM by Lynne

    I'm 16 weeks pregnant and 32 years old. Quit smoking April 11 cold turkey. Started gasping for breath the end of March. Been on antibiotics, inhalers, steroids...not much better. Walking upstairs to my home makes me short of breath. I spent hours in ER last night. Had a CT worth dye done, taking extra care of covering back and front area for baby. My chest still hurts, stomach cramping, and have a migraine. Neither doctor liked my blood levels. Too low, especially for pregnancy. Baby appeared fine in ultrasound. They're concerned about blood clots. I'm so tired.

    posted @ Tuesday, October 09, 2012 11:04 AM by Lizz B

    Please keep calling the doctors, showing up at their offices, etc.. until you feel better. Sometimes we have to fight and become "rude" in order to get the help we need. Your priority right now is yourself and that baby. Nobody else feels the way you do so you need to be your own advocate. Good thoughts and prayers are heading your way. I hope you get some rest soon. Feel better and take care of that baby.

    posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 7:19 AM by Lynne

    I went for a chest xray yesterday as i told the doctor i have been short of breath alot lately , even when sitting down and i am 35. Not totally out of breath just feels different. of course i am worried about cancer BUT i am not bringing up blood from lungs just clear flem. Any ideas ?

    posted @ Thursday, January 03, 2013 5:08 AM by Gary

    I am 38 years old and on December 3rd, I woke up at 6:23 am and couldn't breathe, I was grasping for air and the harder I breathed the worse it got, I woke up my husband and he called 911, after 10 hours in the ER, they diagnosed me with Pulmonary Embolism. I had a clot in my lung.  
    The day prior, I had a sharp pain in my right chest, shooting pain down my arm, and under my rib cage. My husband and I had dragged out Xmas tree to the car, and thought I had a sore muscle. Looking back, I had been short of breathe, blamed it on the cold weather. 
    My best advice listen to your body, it will tell you things that doctors can't tell you.  
    We all need to manage our own care, in the ER they ran all these tests, and the doctor came in and said 'we can't find anything wrong with you' I said, 'I can't be crazy, there is something wrong, I felt like I was dying. What other tests can you do?' 
    She sighed with annoyance and said that she would do a CT and then if nothing came up she was sending me home...She sent her PA in to tell me the news, because she almost screwed up royaly!  
    Manage your own care. Demand answers and don't settle for the 'norm' especially if your body is telling you differently. 

    posted @ Tuesday, January 15, 2013 6:31 PM by Tricia

    Dear Sir 
    I had taken x ray 2 days back. It showed some callification. The doctor said u r unfit. So I went to chest physician he said ur absolutely fit and there no traces of anything. He referred me to a CT Scan of Chest should i go for it or take any antibotic please reply and suggest me

    posted @ Wednesday, February 13, 2013 12:33 AM by solomon

    My seven-year-old daughter just had a CT scan of her chest done this morning. I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm putting it in God's hands. She has Sickle Cell Disease. She had originally been taken to the hospital for a high fever but developed fluid in her left lung almost overnight. After having the fluid drained her lung is still partially collapsed and there still seem to be other structures showing up in X-ray. I am praying to God it's nothing serious. I am believing God for a miraculous recovery. In Jesus' name.

    posted @ Wednesday, February 13, 2013 10:45 AM by Tish

    I had a Ct chest spine w/o dye. I was having pain in back and sides. They didn't find anything wrong. I was wondering since I have smoked if they could see if I possibly have a pulmonary problem in the scan.. thank you

    posted @ Wednesday, March 27, 2013 10:26 PM by Jeanie

    I had a CT Scan done over a year ago. The nurse said that there was something in my chest that goes away with age. I cannot remember for life of me what it was called. I am having no luck searching the Internet. I think whatever it was surrounds the esophagus. Any ideas?

    posted @ Tuesday, May 14, 2013 10:30 PM by Holly

    been short of breath for a long time and cough a lot. Had a chest CT Scan done, No dye, only breathing, when finished I was lightheaded, weak legs, coughed up mucus and could not remember any phone # the back of my head hurt and the forehead hurt bad. lasted about 2 hrs. did anyone ever have this experience and could you let me know what it could have been.

    posted @ Monday, September 23, 2013 12:11 PM by Rose

    My symptoms began with a random aching on the left side of my chest. They persisted throughout the whole day and eventually spread down to my left arm. I went to the ER to be safe because I am a fit, 21 year old girl. The ER did an EKG, chest x ray, blood work they said all was good and released me. I then recieved a call saying a 9 mm nodual was found on left lobe of the left lung and to follow up by having a CT scan of the chest done. So I did... All was good. The symptoms persisted for about 2 months and I now experience breathing difficulty when resting and exercising along with some dizziness that often feels like when you have a head cold and you have trouble concentrating. I have been to a cardiologist and had a second EKG and echocardiogram. My primary and the PA insist I have some sort of anxiety? Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

    posted @ Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:29 PM by Lynn

    I have bee having alot of shortnees of breathe when walking and climbing steps. I have a fast heartbeat around 118-124 Getting a ct scan of the chest done soon. I have been tired alot and have night sweats. I was wondering if my thyroid or vitaimn d?

    posted @ Wednesday, January 08, 2014 2:11 PM by Bonita

    I had nose surgery dec1702013. My oxegen lovel was o low 79. I ws sent home and felt very tired with pains in my chest. I went to emergency care- had chest x rays- ubalizer- inhaler and steroid to open my airways. Doctors think that my breathing tube wss pulled out too fast and bruised my airways 

    posted @ Saturday, January 18, 2014 10:34 AM by bonnie

    i had bike accident on august 17 , 2013 which i flip over mind handbar to where the handbar direction fall in mind chest where my sternum is which i still have condtion sereve pain where i be back forward to the hospital ,doctor which the it calles costondtris sorry if messy the words so im going to find what is im get pain in mind lower strenum and with i feel im ave heart attack but mind heart good so im think it xphoid so please give info to email so thank u hellp me thought hard time which be suffer for last year still no cure for it nothing of pain medicne are help me i help to tell what else im support help me so im need some help to cure pain which im cant sleep at night im up all night long so give any comnetb back

    posted @ Sunday, May 04, 2014 2:37 PM by donna christian

    Had my ct done today 8 July 14. 
    Simple,quick,and outer there. After effects, I glowed that night. So no sweat.

    posted @ Tuesday, July 08, 2014 1:45 PM by Rick

    Please, NEVER HAVE A CT ANGIOGRAM OF THE CHEST WITH CONTRAST if a doctor recommends it to rule out a pulmonary embolism. It is a toxic test with an ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF RADIATION. Have a simple, safer D Dimer blood test instead, which detects the breakdown of a clot occurring somewhere in the body. If it is negative, then skip the CTA with PE protocol. I had one, and it was the WORST decision of my life. My lungs have been burning and inflamed since having the CT scan, most likely a condition called pneumonitis that usually happens after high dose radiation therapy for lung cancer. And it can affect other sensitive organs, including your testicles/ovaries and thyroid gland, especially if it's done by an technician who doesn't properly shield those organs. EVEN IF IT IS A PE, IT'S NOT NECESSARILY LETHAL. The CT scan is WORSE than the physical condition it's being used to diagnose! AVOID IT IF YOU CAN.

    posted @ Saturday, October 11, 2014 9:11 PM by richman73

    Two weeks ago I had to have a scope procedure, the problem I was having was extreme belching that was terrible. I have suffered for years with Acid Reflux so I thought this was the problem just getting worse. After the procedure when I woke up they said they were scheduling a CT Scan and they had done a biopsy, no explanation on the biopsy. They have me scheduled Dec. 2nd for the scan this has me terrified. I am thankful I found this site, I will at least know to drink plenty of fluids after the scan.. Any ideas of my problem!

    posted @ Tuesday, November 25, 2014 10:45 PM by Marie Green

    Im 40,was a light smoker the past five years and i dont work in a factory to breath in chemicals. The past couple months ive been getting very short winded ( only when I exert myself or do steps), been very tired, lost weight without trying and when i take a deep breath it hurts ( more so in my esophagus) and then makes me cough. I go to the Dr and they did a chest xray and some blood work....all came back fine and sent me home with an inhaler. One month later now and my breathing feels ten times worse walking, long conversations, hard laughing and climbing four steps makes me very winded...a lot of times to the point were I need my inhaled or have to lay down. I wake up at least once a night coughing( dry) to the point I cant breath and start gaging...and because I cant breath I take deep breaths which hurt which keep me coughing which makes my breathing worse. Any ideas out there as to what could be up with me?

    posted @ Sunday, January 04, 2015 4:44 PM by Jolenne

    I have been have unusual chest paines for months with shortness of breath. Sometimes followed by my heart skipping beats. Also I have woken up many times from a dead sleep to shortness of breath and my heart racing over 170 bpm. I have seeny doctor but all tests have come back normal. I am a healthy 165lbs and almost 40. I don't smoke drink or do drugs. Blood came back Normal as did my blood pressure and X-ray. It's very aggrevating because it's a constant problem. Some days worse than others. I wrote off anxiety as I'm not someone who worrys much and my only stress is normal stuff. Also I go to the gym regularly but often when I climb stairs or a ladder my heart will pick up pace and breathing is very difficult

    posted @ Wednesday, March 25, 2015 6:11 AM by Michaell

    I am a 61 y/o female with no health problems. I have been experiencing intense pain almost every night. It wakes me out of my sleep and makes me just wail and cry. It lasts maybe up to 15-20 seconds. It doesn't sound long, but when in pain it is too long. It is always on left side of my breast and goes into my back. What could this be? My Dr. is at a loss, so far. Blood, chest X-ray and Diagnostic Mammogram all clear. 
    Thank you!

    posted @ Monday, April 27, 2015 12:03 PM by Gloria

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