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Computed tomography, thorax, low dose for lung cancer screening, without contrast material(s)

CPT4 code

Name of the Procedure:

Computed Tomography (CT) of the Thorax, Low Dose for Lung Cancer Screening, Without Contrast Material(s)


A low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest is a special type of X-ray that produces detailed, cross-sectional images of the lungs to screen for signs of lung cancer. This procedure does not use contrast material, making it a simpler and quicker process compared to traditional CT scans with contrast.


The main purpose of a low-dose CT scan of the thorax is to detect lung cancer at an early stage, when it is more likely to be treated successfully. Screening is aimed particularly at high-risk individuals to decrease the mortality rate from lung cancer by identifying abnormalities early.


  • Individuals aged 50-80 years
  • A current or former smoker with a history of heavy smoking (30 pack-years or more)
  • Those who have quit smoking within the last 15 years
  • Patients with a family history of lung cancer
  • People exposed to known carcinogens like asbestos or radon


  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Metal objects such as jewelry may need to be removed.
  • No fasting or specific medication adjustments are required.
  • Inform the healthcare provider if there is a possibility of pregnancy.

Procedure Description

  1. The patient will lie on a motorized table that slides through the CT scanner.
  2. The technician may ask the patient to hold their breath for short periods to ensure clear images.
  3. The CT scanner takes multiple X-ray images from different angles, which are then compiled by a computer to create detailed cross-sectional images.
  4. The entire scan is performed without the use of contrast material, reducing preparation time and complexity.


The procedure typically takes about 10-15 minutes.


The procedure is usually performed in an outpatient imaging center or a hospital radiology department.


  • Radiologic Technologist to operate the CT scanner
  • Radiologist to interpret the scan results
  • Referring physician for follow-up care

Risks and Complications

  • Minimal exposure to radiation, though at a low dose.
  • Small risk of false positives or false negatives, which could lead to additional tests or undiagnosed lung cancer.
  • Very rare risk of allergic reaction if any previous contrast exposure is relevant (though not applicable in this procedure).


  • Early detection of lung cancer, which significantly improves survival rates.
  • Non-invasive and relatively quick procedure without the need for contrast material.
  • Provides detailed images that can help in accurate diagnosis and treatment planning.


  • No specific recovery measures required; patients can resume normal activities immediately after the procedure.
  • Results are usually available within a few days; follow-up appointments may be scheduled to discuss findings.


  • Traditional chest X-ray, though less detailed and not as effective for early lung cancer detection.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, often more detailed but involves higher radiation doses and contrast material.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, which does not involve radiation but is less common for lung cancer screening.

Patient Experience

  • The procedure is typically painless.
  • Patients might feel some anxiety during the scan due to the enclosed space of the scanner.
  • There is no discomfort after the scan, and normal activities can be resumed immediately.

Medical Policies and Guidelines for Computed tomography, thorax, low dose for lung cancer screening, without contrast material(s)

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