Worried about CT scan: Morning all, I'm... - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation

48,781 members58,072 posts

Worried about CT scan

Franmol profile image

Morning all,

I'm having a CT scan on the lungs this afternoon and have never had one before. I'm a bit concerned about having to lie flat on the scanner given my extreme breathlessness and also having to hold my breath for a while. Can anybody reassure me please?

15 Replies

Hi Franmol,

There is nothing to be concerned about, the holding of your breath is twice and only for 8 seconds. I have very severe Emphysema and do not normally lay on my back, at night. I've had loads of regular scans, so many I have now lost count. The scan itself does not take long at all, even a high resolution scan will only take around 15 minutes.

When told to breathe in and asked to hold your breath, avoid taking a real deep breath, that will cause uncomfortable pressure in your chest and believe it or not will hinder the required time to do so. Practice this before you go and you will see what I mean, find the comfortable amount to breath in to hold it.

Arrive in plenty of time, 10-15 mins early, to give you time to get your breath back from the walk there and to relax. Do not rush from the waiting room to the scanner, take your time, do not feel pressured into trying to keep up with the nurse, make them slow down.

Good luck with your scan and hope you cope okay. I felt the same as you with my very first scan, concerned with the breath holding.

Good morning. I had a CT scan 2 weeks ago. ( Not my first). The scan took minutes. The staff ensure you are comfortable . From getting out my car and having the scan and back to my car took 20 minutes. Please dont be anxious the staff will be highly skilled and very used to dealing with people with severe breathing difficults . Take care x

Franmol profile image
Franmol in reply to teddyd

Thank you both very much indeed - most helpful. Will they be asking me any questions about my health/prescriptions, etc., so I can be prepared?

teddyd profile image
teddyd in reply to Franmol

I always carry a repeat prescription. But they didnt need any details. You do have to remove jewellery. Other than get you to confirm your name address and DOB no further info required. Due to covid19 our hospital asked that I only arrive 5 minutes early and to wear a mask if possible. 😷

Hidden profile image
Hidden in reply to teddyd

That's what they said to me when I had mine to take off my necklace and bracelets to go in the scanner.

leo60 profile image
leo60 in reply to Franmol

I have severe Emphysema and had a scan in June. The only problem I had was wearing a mask and lying on my back, but once they let me take the mask off I was fine. Really nothing to worry about so relax and don't let your breathing be affected by being anxious! I wasn't asked any questions, they just do the scanning :) . 2greys covered everything else! Good luck xx

Hi Framol I have had two but I think I had a pillow both times. Could be different now with Covid but I would explain all that about breathing when you get there. I have had one with dye as well a thorax none of them were anything to worry about. They don’t take long and holding your breath is for seconds. They only ask your name address date of birth nothing else as far as I can remember. I hope you get on ok x

Thank you all very much - very helpful and reassuring!

CDPO16 profile image
CDPO16 in reply to Franmol

I think you will be ok. I've had 3 CT scans including 2 chest. They didn't take long and I had a pillow so wasn’t completely flat. Like an xray you have to change into a gown. I avoided the effort of doing that by not wearing a bra under a plain t shirt so all I had to do was take my coat and cardigan off.

Franmol profile image
Franmol in reply to CDPO16

Ooh, that's a good one, no bra a T shirt it is, thanks!

Dont worry, its really easy and quick, and you will be out before you have thought about it. I have had several and was pleased with how easy and comfortable i felt.



Morning. Like 2 greys I have had many CT's over the last few years, it is a very short appointment and the staff are well used to dealing with patients who have breathing problems. Take your time and I am sure you will be fine. Good luck!

Of course, you were all right, it was a doddle! A strange experience though walking through a vast hospital with no people in it, umpteen reception desks with no receptionists, waiting room with nobody waiting and so on. We found our way to the correct department and a young man appeared out of nowhere, ushered me in and it was over in two minutes. He did give me that extra pillow lol and assured me that holding my breath (twice) would take seconds and it did.

I did as advised by CBDO16 and I didn't have to change into a gown at all, thank you for that!

You've all been very kind and helpful, thank you.

CDPO16 profile image
CDPO16 in reply to Franmol

Thanks for letting us know, I'm glad all went well. Hope you don't have to wait too long for the results. x

Hidden profile image

I had a CT scan myself back in 2017 when I was diagnosed with blood clots in my lungs and I can talk you through it.

When they had said about a CT scan I had felt terrified thinking it was the same as an mri scan where you are trapped in the machine but the CT machine is nice and open and it's like going through a polo mint but they are noisy though.

The radiographer puts an injection of iodine in your arm usually or gives you a drink of contrast to show up where the problem is and you lie on a bed and the radiographer goes behind a screen to operate the machine and they say about breaths and you can talk to the radiographer through an intercom and if you have the iodine contrast you get a hot sensation and feel like you are peeing when you aren't.

The scan itself doesn't take very long and when it's finished the radiographer takes the canula out of your arm and says how long the results will be and then you can go home or like with me be taken back to a and e to the waiting room there.

Best of luck!

You may also like...