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Lung Scan

A lung scan is a specialized type of lung x-ray used to help make a diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE). It determines whether there are blockages of blood flow in the lungs and the location of the blockages. This test is also known as a ventilation perfusion lung scan or VQ scan.

Lung scans are performed in the VGH Radiology Department and take approximately 30-60 minutes. For this test, a contrast dye is injected into the bloodstream to highlight the blood flow and any clots in the vessels. During the test, the patient inhales a small amount of a medical vapour to determine where air flows in the lungs.

Because PE can be fatal without treatment, the benefits of diagnosing PE outweigh the potential risks of the procedure, even in patients who are pregnant. Your physician will discuss any potential risks with you prior to the procedure.

If the lung scan results are not clear, your doctor may order additional tests such as a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.


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