How Do Doctors Detect Nodular Density in a Lung?


Quick Answer

A computerized tomography scan allows doctors to detect the internal density of a pulmonary nodule, as well as its shape, size and location, according to Cleveland Clinic. A computerized tomography scan is also referred to as a CT scan, states Mayo Clinic.

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Full Answer

CT scans provide doctors with more detailed information than X-rays, explains Mayo Clinic. A CT scan combines multiple X-ray images that are taken in a series. A series of X-rays are also taken from multiple angles to create cross-section images of the body. Bones, blood vessels and soft tissues are all visible via CT imaging. Additionally, a CT scan can detect nodules that are only 1 to 2 millimeters in size, whereas single pulmonary nodules on an X-ray are likely to be from 8 to 10 millimeters in size, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Most often pulmonary nodules are not cancerous, states Cleveland Clinic. Small nodules or nodules with features that have a low likelihood of being cancerous may require repeated CT scans over a period of time. The length of time between CT scans varies depending on how likely it is that a person has cancer and how likely it is that a nodule is cancerous. Nodules that do not grow are considered benign or noncancerous.

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