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Patient care — diagnostic tools, tests, procedures

Thoracic CT - A CT scan (computed tomography) of the chest and upper abdomen. The patient will be asked to lie on a narrow table (gantry) that slides into the center of the scanner. Depending on the study being performed, the patient may need to lie on his/her stomach, back, or side. If contrast media (dye) is to be administered, intravenous access will be placed in a small vein of a hand or arm.

Much like standard photographic cameras, subject motion causes blurred images in CT. Therefore, the technologist operating the scanner and supervising the patient will give instructions through an intercom when to hold one's breath and not move.

As the exam takes place, the gantry will advance small intervals through the scanner. Modern "spiral" scanners can perform the examination in one continuous motion of the gantry. Generally, complete scans will only take a few minutes, however, additional contrast-enhanced or higher-resolution scans will add to the scan time. The newest multi-detector scanners can image the entire body, head to toe, in under 30 seconds.

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