Interpreting A Chest CT Scan


The following guide helps walk you through a comprehensive approach to understand and interpreting chest CT scans. As a refresher read this guide on the fundamentals of CT studies to help orient yourself.


When interpreting any radiological study it is important to have a clear algorithm.

  1. Airway: begin on the lung window and trace the trachea down to the bronchi/branching airways.
  2. Lungs: keep the same window and go through looking for nodules, or any lung pathology. Go lobe by lobe.
  3. Mediastinum: change windows the the mediastinal window. Look at…
    • Heart
    • Vessel sizes
    • Presence of atherosclerosis 
    • Esophagus 
    • Thyroid 
    • Pleura
  4. Chest wall: 
    • Breast: 
    • Axilla: looking for lymphadenopathy
    • Chest wall: looking for masses
  5. Upper abdomen: change windows to abdominal
    • Liver: can use liver window
    • Gall bladder:
    • Pancreas: 
    • Adrenal 
    • Kidney:
  6. Bones: change windows to the bone windows. Look on all views.


Page Updated: 07.31.2017