The CT lung screening experience

    It’s common to be nervous about medical examinations, but a quick and easy CT lung screening exam may save your life in seconds flat.

    As described on RMI’s CT Lung Cancer Screening page, detecting lung cancer early increases the odds of survival to 92%. Caught late, the survival rate drops to only 15%. Early diagnosis with CT lung screening is key to that higher survival. And that annual chest x-ray is simply not enough – it’s detection rate of potentially cancerous nodules is too low.

    So, what is a CT lung screening like? First, after check-in you will be brought to the CT exam room, where one of our friendly technologists will get a detailed history. They will ask you about your current or former smoking habits, exposure to industrial chemicals or pollutants, and other family or inherited conditions.

    You are then asked to lay on the CT scanner’s movable bed. There is no need to change clothing, although personal items such as necklaces need to be removed. The bed will slide under a large circular section of the machine containing the scanner. An initial ‘survey’ scan is taken to find anatomical coordinates necessary to place the images properly. You will continue to lie down, and the table will slide back under to conduct the full exam.

    You’ll hear a recorded voice asking you to take a deep breath and hold it in for 12 seconds. After those 12 seconds, the scan is complete.

    You then sit up and are escorted from the exam room. Overall, your time in the machine is around 30 seconds, and with the initial history interview you are looking at around five minutes total time. That’s not a lot of time or inconvenience to save yourself from lung cancer!

    After you depart, the CT system will be constructing the scans (think of spiral-shaped x-ray images) into a complete 3D ‘picture’ over the next five minutes. Those scans are transmitted to software used by our cardio-thoracic radiologist Dr. Ehab Youssef to read the exams and make his report. The report is transmitted to your primary care physician for follow-up.

    You can get started by using a variety of risk calculator tools, learn about eligibility for insurance coverage or other means of payment, and download a printable checklist and brochure at our lung screening eligibility page.

    Once you’re ready, talk to your physician about CT lung screening so they can write an order for the exam.