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What is a CT scan?

CT stands for computerised tomography. It is a special scan that uses X-rays and a computer to create images of the inside of the body. CT scans are sometimes called CAT scans or computed tomography scans.

CT scans are done by specially trained people called radiographers. At the Lung Health Checks in Manchester, we use ultra-low-dose CT. This means the amount of radiation is very low, like an X-ray.

When you have your CT scan, you should try not to wear jewellery and clothes that have metal in them (like zips) because these will need to be removed.

What happens during a CT scan?

During the CT scan, you will usually lie on your back on a flat bed, which then goes through the CT scanning machine. The CT scanning machine is a ring that rotates around your body as you pass through it.

The radiographer will control the CT scanning machine from behind a screen. You will be able to see and speak to your radiographer while you have your CT scan. You will need to lie still and follow simple breathing instructions for less than 10 seconds to make sure the pictures from the CT scan are not blurred.

Will you have an injection?


How long does a CT scan take?

The appointment takes no more than 15 minutes, but is usually done within 5 or 10 minutes. Once you are on the flat bed, the actual CT scan takes less than 20 seconds to complete.

What happens next?

If you smoke, we will offer you help to stop smoking. After that, you are free to go home. The CT scan is painless and you can eat, drink or drive as normal after it.

When will you get your results?

You will get your Lung Health Check results within 4 weeks. We will tell you if your CT scan was normal, or if you need another scan or if you need more tests.

Is the CT scan ever wrong?

Sometimes CT scans see something that needs more tests but is later found to be harmless. If you are worried about your result, you can discuss it with your GP.