Which scan is best for the lungs? Well, since you want to know which scan is best for the lungs, I have to begin by saying that the answer is very subjective. There’s no such thing as the best in medical science, as the diagnostic process and treatment depend on what the doctor wants to uptake according to your physical condition.
Besides, technological progress in the field of medicine is continuously evolving. Medical experts are bringing into the picture new and advanced diagnostic modalities and reconfiguring the traditional ones to create more scope for early diagnosis of lung diseases.
Your doctor may ask for an MRI scan to derive a detailed structure of your lungs, especially of the soft tissues. In case your doctor wants to check the cellular activities within your lungs, you might have to undertake a PET scan!
Doctors ask for a CT scan to assess the abnormalities revealed on your chest X-ray images. In fact, the use of lung ultrasound to detect and manage respiratory complications under mechanical ventilation is much more prominent these days.
So, which scan is best for the lungs depends on which lung disease you have, where the disease originates, what is the extent or stage, and many more factors. Sometimes, factors like pregnancy, the presence of metallic implants, and medical history lead your doctor to determine the best modality for you at the moment!
Are you ready to discover the most significant lung scans and when it lay used? If so, continue reading.
A chest X-ray is the first imaging test your doctor may recommend to look for the cause of severe chest pain, shortness of breath, persistent fever, and cough. A chest X-ray not only scans your lungs but also the heart, aorta, chest bones, bronchi, and pulmonary arteries. Hence, this scan can help detect the presence of fluids between your lungs and chest walls.
A chest X-ray can detect fluids within your lungs, a condition called pulmonary edema, an indication of congestive heart failure! This scan can also help detect inflammation of the lining in one or both lungs, which medical science call pleuritis. Your doctor may also recommend a chest X-ray to check your lungs after surgery.
Computed Tomography (CT)
When doctors want a more detailed picture of your lungs to detect congenital abnormalities and interstitial or chronic lung disease, they prefer a CT scan over an X-ray. It is because, unlike an X-ray, a CT scan can create cross-sectional images. Your doctor can recommend this scan to evaluate the extent of a lung injury and tumor growth, whether benign or malignant!
A CT scan is also significant in diagnosing pneumonia, tuberculosis, and cystic fibrosis in your lungs. It can help your doctor plan radiation therapy and examine whether the malignant tumors are responding to the treatment. In recent times, low-dose CT scans have become prevalent in diagnosing lung cancer at its early stage and show a more sensitivity rate than a conventional CT scan.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
When a CT scan fails to assess the characteristics and exact location of an abnormal mass in your lung or its surroundings, doctors opt for an MRI scan. Perhaps, an MRI scan is more precise in diagnosing complex lung conditions but gets rarely used over a CT scan. This scan can help assess the size of a tumor and the extent of its spread.
Moreover, an MRI scan helps your doctor evaluate the blood flow to your lungs. The superior sensitivity to soft tissues in an MRI can help accurately help detect pleural disorders, i.e., an abnormality, defect, or disease in the tissue wrapping your lungs. An MRI scan acts as an alternative to a CT scan for diagnosing a pregnant woman’s lung, as it does not expose you to radiation.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
When you ask which scan is best for the lungs for diagnosing the structures, CT scan and MRI are the most common answers. But, when you ask which scan is best for lung cells’ function, the answer is always a PET scan. In other words, a PET scan can demonstrate the metabolic activities in your lung cells. It shows higher accuracy in diagnosing pulmonary infections and inflammations.
Likewise, a PET scan is highly accurate in assessing whether a mass in your lungs is cancerous, thereby eliminating the need for a biopsy. In fact, it can also reveal the exact stage of cancer and how far that has spread. This scan lay typically performed after a CT scan or X-ray or while determining the best possible cancer treatment course or understanding how well your cancer therapy works.
The use of ultrasound for diagnosing lungs has become popular in the healthcare sector today, especially for patients who have allergies and needs to avoid radiation or those with metallic implants in the body and cannot pursue an MRI. According to studies, ultrasounds hold a 90% accuracy rate in diagnosing asthma, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Your doctor may use ultrasound to trace pulmonary embolism, where the presence of a blood clot stops blood flow to your lungs by blocking the artery. If you have a pneumothorax, i.e., a collapsed lung, an ultrasound can detect it. This scan has become essential in pediatric care. Yes. Your doctor may recommend a lung ultrasound for your child, as it is a non-invasive and radiation-less process.
So, can you now understand which scan is best for the lungs for examining a particular disease? I hope the blog served its purpose. I hope you see a doctor whenever you experience severe chest pain, breathing problems, fever, or cough. All these symptoms are associated with lung conditions, and your doctor can easily diagnose the main cause and thereby initiate appropriate treatment.
If your doctor recommends a chest MRI in Chandigarh, you can contact us for help via [email protected]. We aim to guide patients in acquiring the best possible diagnosis in the city. We can seamlessly connect you to the NABL-certified diagnostic labs for your lung MRI.