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Terry, Nurse, RN, BSN
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 693
Experience:  Adult/ Respiratory/ Neonatal ICU, Pediatric/Adolescent Care, Geriatrics, Patient/Parent Counseling
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My husband has a complex medical history including COPD,

Resolved Question:

My husband has a complex medical history including COPD, early Emphysema, PTSD, Depression, Anxiety Disorder, Hx of smoking X30 years, and some asbestos exposure. He had a routine chest x-ray last week in which there was nothing abnormal, so he was told. But he has experienced weight loss and decreased desire for food lately, so they are sending him for a CT of the chest "Upper and Lower." He also suffers from bouts of painful "gas" with abdominal pain. They did CBC which was norm. They said all blood work was WNL. What do you think they are looking for? (My first husband died from malignant melanoma and I am TERRIFIED of the C word!)
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Terry replied 9 years ago.


I fully understand your fears and concerns and will try to help you. You have described that your husband has a complex medical history incuding respiratory illness and diagnosis. This would indicate that he would not have a 'normal' chest x-ray, but instead, one showing the typical changes that indicate COPD and emphysema.

Since his appetite is decreased, it makes sense that he is losing weight, and the question is, why? Therefore the doctor will do medical investigation to rule out any problem. If a cause for his symptoms is found, then it can be treated so he can feel better. You are overly 'scared' because of your past experience, and that is absolutely understandable. Right now there is no diagnosis and that can be a good thing. They may find nothing at all, but they must look in order to know that. When you say upper and lower CT of chest, I am wondering if you mean upper and lower GI series which would be done for his symptoms to make sure all is well in his stomach and bowels. They will look for any irritation of gastric lining, ulcers, tumors, polyps. I am glad to know that his blood work is within normal limits and that is a good first step.

I wish your husband well!

Please let me know when his test is scheduled for and if I can help you any further.



Terry and other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I should clarify that what the doc said about his cxr was that is showed some worsening emphysema but nothing else. His weight loss is scaring me to death because of my cancer phobia. My first husband started out with what looked like a fungal fingernail, ended up being melanoma and was dead in three years, so in my crazy paranoid mind, "everything" leads to cancer. The doc mentioned that come cancers don't show up on a cxr at which point I began to panic just hearing her say the word. His CT scan is set for 7/23 and I am a wreck, although I do not let him see how terrified I have made myself. I guess what I wanted to know is what could be causing this weight loss except something horrible and why they would be doing a CT scan unless they thought it was something horrible. To clarify the CT order my husband said it was of the chest, upper and lower, not sure what that means. I wondered myself if it meant the abdominal area also.
Expert:  Terry replied 9 years ago.


You should call the doctor and clarify exactly what test will be done and what SHE is looking for. This will reduce your anxiety if the doctor would discuss with you.

Let me know what the test is as soon as you find out.

Thank you very much!


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Hello, again. Thanks so much for your time. I have gotten clarification of her orders. CT of abdomen w/o contrast, CT of chest. ( The labs that were already done were CBC, auto diff platelet, comprehensive metabolic panel and tsh. All WNL.) I know you can't diagnose him, but what do you think she suspects?
Expert:  Terry replied 9 years ago.


Thank you for the extra added detail. A CT scan is more detailed than a regular xray and can help the doctor determine diagnosis, by producing multiple images and pictures along with the help of a computer. Let's face it, your husband has smoked for thirty years and you know that there are lung risks involved with smoking and the doctor wants to look for changes in the lungs related to that. I don't know your hubby's entire medical history so I base my answer on what you have told me. This test can help diagnose clinical symptoms of disease of the chest (you said he has COPD and emphysema). A chest CT can also show other lung disorders such as pneumonia, bronchiectasis, inflammation or diseases of the pleura (membrane covering the lungs.

A CT scan of the abdomen is typically done to help diagnose the cause of abdominal pain. It is very good that your doctor is searching for a cause of your husband's symptoms because then he can be treated properly. This test can be used to study blood vessels, detect masses and tumors and look for infection, kidney stones. It shows detailed pictures of the belly area.

Of course you will be apprehensive while waiting for results but please realize that this is being done to benefit him. We tend to think the worst. Ignoring the symptoms is of no use.

I hope I have helped you.

You and your husband are in my prayers.

Let me know if you want to talk further.