Computed tomography of the chest

Last revised by Bahman Rasuli on 2 Oct 2020

Computed tomography (CT) of the chest is a cross-sectional evaluation of the heart, airways, lungs, mediastinum, and associated bones and soft tissues.

Two key methods of image acquisition include:

  • standard CT with 5 mm slice thickness for mediastinum and gross evaluation of lungs
  • high-resolution CT (HRCT) with thin sections (slice thickness of 0.625 to 1.25 mm) for evaluation of the secondary lobule of the lungs

General indications

Emergencies
  • chest trauma: evaluation of contusionsrib fractures, and pneumothorax
  • aortic pathologies: dissection, transection
  • pulmonary embolism
  • post-thoracic surgery complications: mediastinal hematomas, complex pleural collections
Non-emergencies
  • evaluation of nodules, hilar, or mediastinal masses identified on a chest radiograph
  • diagnosis and staging of lung cancer
  • detection of metastasis from known extrathoracic malignancies
  • assessment of congenital anomalies of the thoracic great vessels
  • characterization of interstitial lung disease (ILDs)

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