Diseases of the lungs, as before, are very common pathologies. Everyone is used to the fact that, in case of any suspicion, diseases of the respiratory organs immediately give direction to an x-ray. But today there is another type of diagnosis - computed tomography. What does CT of the lungs show, how is it worse (or better) than X-rays?
New format of radiation diagnostics: go for x-rays or make a CT?
The classic method of examination, through which for several decades, diseases of the respiratory organs have been identified, is chest radiography. It quickly, inexpensively, painlessly and really helps in making a diagnosis. It would seem - what else could be better? But medical science is constantly looking for new ways that will give doctors more information about the patient's state of health, eliminate diagnostic errors, detect the disease as early as possible, and increase the safety of the examination procedure.
The CT method, which was invented in 1972 and provided invaluable service to doctors in making correct diagnoses, meets precisely these criteria. In particular, it helps in detail to “probe” all segments of the lung tissue and bronchi and in parallel to assess the condition of the heart and blood vessels.
What is the main principle of computer diagnostics of the lungs?
During X-rays, a snapshot of the lung (or its fragment) is obtained in its entirety. At the same time, due to the imposition of one layer of tissue on another, small pathological foci remain practically indistinguishable. So you can miss pneumonia or cancer. If the x-ray showed that everything is in order with the respiratory organs, and the symptoms indicate problems, then computed tomography of the lungs comes to the rescue. What it is can be explained in a few words.
This is a special technique of X-ray imaging of the chest organs. It enables the visualization of individual layers of the organ in cross section (with a thickness of 0.5 to 10 mm). This is a very highly sensitive method. Its principle consists in circular X-ray transmission through the chest organs.
When tomography can not do?
If it is necessary to examine the lungs, bronchi, thoracic lymph nodes and vessels, the trachea very accurately, as there were suspicions of dangerous pathologies of these organs, it is preferable to go to a CT scan. It is shown at:
- suspected tumors in the lungs and pleural cavity;
- pleurisy, inflammation of the lymph nodes, diseases of the sternum and ribs;
- changes in the structure of the lung tissue;
- pulmonary tuberculosis;
- artery aneurysm;
- if there is a foreign body in the trachea or bronchi;
- signs of pneumonia and changes in the heart bag.
What can a doctor see on a CT scan?
Usually, a referral to conduct computerized diagnostics of the lungs is issued after a medical consultation, in which a radiologist, a surgeon (in torsional surgery), a tuberculosis specialist, and a pulmonologist participate. What does lung imaging show and how does this procedure help in making a diagnosis? Based on its results, the doctor is able to:
- identify the exact location, size, structure of tumors;
- carry out differential diagnostics of foci of tuberculosis and tumors (in the initial stages);
- in doubtful cases, to reliably answer whether the patient has pulmonary emphysema, abscesses and fistulas of the bronchopleural tree;
- distinguish aneurysm from tumor growths;
- see that the malignancy of the neck has spread to the organs located in the chest;
- find the source of metastases;
- with 100% accuracy to analyze the condition of the lymph nodes and vessels;
- determine the severity and stage of the disease;
- detect problems with blood vessels caused by the separation of artery walls;
- determine the prognosis and develop the tactics of medical care (conservative treatment, surgery, radiation or chemotherapy).
How is tomography performed and should the patient prepare for it?
No special training in terms of diet, drug withdrawal and special treatment from the subject is required. But 4 hours before the study it is necessary to stop eating and drinking. The diagnostician will talk with the patient, tell about the fact that during the meeting there is a possible harmful effect (albeit in minimal quantities) on the body. A woman must inform the radiologist if she is pregnant, as this is a contraindication to CT.
If a person is very worried, they will give him a sedative for the night and in the morning. The whole process will take no more than 20 minutes. Neither the patient nor the patient experiences any pain.
Tomography is carried out in a special room. The patient will need to lie on the table tomograph. It is mobile, moves through a special tunnel. To prevent the patient from changing the set posture, belts and pads can be used. He must lie still, at some points the doctor on the intercom will give the command to hold your breath. Although the diagnostician is in another room, he sees well what is happening in the capsule, hears what the patient says. And if the examination is carried out by a child, then his mother puts on a lead apron and is located next to a small patient.
Sometimes it is necessary to introduce a contrast agent into a blood vessel. This is necessary to better consider the vascular pattern.
Data that shows CT scan of the lungs is recorded on a CD.
Not all people can take advantage of the unique diagnostic capabilities of tomography. It is not suitable for persons who have a pacemaker implanted, ferromagnetic implants and patients whose weight exceeds 130 kg.
Can CT cause cancer?
The load during this examination almost does not exceed the surrounding background radiation. It can become the cause of oncology only if it is performed many times in a row in a short time (which is not practiced).
If you have heard a lot of different "pugalok" about the harmful effects of the procedure, then know that this is just ignorance. Of course, radiation is present, but it is much less than with an x-ray examination. If you are assigned such a diagnosis, do not hesitate, agree. Delay can sometimes lead to dire and even irreparable health consequences.