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CT Scan Q&A with Cooper Clinic Diagnostic Radiology Expert

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At Cooper Clinic, imaging and screening services include X-rays, CT scans, mammograms and more. The radiology team also uses MDCT (Multi-Detector) scans for early disease detection.

John Cannaday, MD, DABR, a diagnostic radiologist at Cooper Clinic, explains that the National Lung Screening Trial study supports what Cooper Clinic imaging has practiced for years. Cooper Clinic uses CT scans to detect early abnormalities and diseases that might otherwise not be discovered before signs or symptoms develop.

At Cooper Clinic, why are CT scans used?
At Cooper Clinic, we use CT scans to evaluate specific complaints or symptoms, find a diagnosis, conduct cardiovascular screening, and calculate heart calcification score. Imaging such as CT scans, X-rays and ultrasound allow us to view internal organs and structures.  It is like surgery without the cutting.

Your heart calcification score allows physicians to obtain information about the presence, location, and extent of calcified plaque buildup in the coronary arteries and other risk factors for heart disease. The Coronary Artery Calcification Score is a useful tool to help doctors identify and classify patient’s heart disease risk rather than guessing. We will help you take the appropriate steps to stall or reverse dangerous conditions that may be brewing without your knowledge.

What – if any – risks are associated with scanning?
Recently, radiation has been a hot topic among physicians, patients, and the media. You may have seen headlines about the risks of associated with scanning. While there is always radiation risk at some level, Cooper Clinic has aggressively lowered the radiation doses for our scans in an effort to minimize that small risk.

To do this, we have adjusted the X-ray equipment to acquire the best possible image with the lowest radiation dose. For example, the standard radiation dose for a CT of the chest is commonly 8 mSv (Millisievert); we routinely image the chest with 2 mSv, a significantly lower dose than the average procedure. The scan remains effective for diagnosis, while at the same time increasing the safety for you the patient.

What does scanning allow you to detect that cannot be detected through other tests?
For me as a physician, the benefits of CT scanning and X-rays are obvious; without imaging, you have only part of the whole puzzle.

CT scans create cross-sectional, or sliced, images of your heart and body. At Cooper Clinic, we use 64 row MDCT scanners. With these images, we can detect early signs of heart disease and other problems. In many cases, MDCT scans detect vascular calcification and other abnormalities before symptoms arise.

How have patients benefited from CT scans?
Oftentimes imaging demonstrates abnormalities that led to early diagnosis of cardiac disease, lung disease, unsuspected abdominal pathology including some types of cancer and thyroid nodules to name a few.

Although there are no perfect tests or silver bullets for finding all possible abnormalities, CT scans often provide useful information to help us direct certain treatments and lifestyle changes. 

Have you seen a link between survival of lung cancer patients and scanning?
Generally speaking, the Cooper Clinic patient population is relatively healthy compared to the population studied by the National Lung Screening Trial which involved more than 53,000 current and former heavy smokers. Their population would expectedly have a higher risk of cancer detection. Even in our relatively healthy population, we have discovered many small stage-one lung cancers in both smokers and non smokers. This has certainly been life saving for these patients.

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