Most people with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) do not need imaging tests after their diagnosis. But in some cases your doctor may request tests to learn more about your leukemia and to see if it is causing any other problems in your body. This may help your doctor recommend the most effective types of treatment for you. You may need one or more of these tests.
A chest X-ray uses radiation to produce a picture of the organs and glands inside your chest. This test cannot show leukemia cells. But it can show if you have an infection in your lungs resulting from your leukemia. It can also help your doctor see if lymph nodes in this area are swollen. The test takes only a few minutes, and it won't cause any pain.
A CT scan takes X-ray pictures of different parts of your body from many different angles. Although a CT scan takes longer than an X-ray, it lets your doctor get a better look at a particular area of your body than an X-ray allows. A CT scan can spot swollen lymph nodes and glands, pockets of infection in your organs, and large clusters of leukemia cells.
To have the test, you lie still on a table as it gradually slides through the center of the CT scanner. Then the scanner directs a continuous beam of X-rays at your body. A computer uses the data from the X-rays to create detailed pictures on the inside of your body.
You may be asked to hold your breath one or more times during the scan. In some cases, you may be asked to drink a contrast medium after an initial set of pictures is taken. This dye outlines your intestines so that they won't be mistaken for a tumor or a pocket of infection. The contrast will later pass through your system and exit through your bowel movements. If you receive it through an intravenous injection in your arm, instead, this contrast dye may cause a feeling of warmth. In rare cases, it can also cause hives or other allergic reactions. Let your doctor know about any reactions you have.
MRIs use radio waves and magnetic fields to create very detailed pictures of the inside of your body. This test may be used to determine if leukemia has spread to your chest or brain and, if so, to see the size and extent of the spread. Or it may be used if the results of an X-ray or CT scan aren't clear. In some cases, you will be injected with a contrast dye 30 to 60 minutes before getting the scan. For this test, you lie still on a table as it passes through a tubelike scanner. A computer uses data from radio waves to create pictures of the inside of your body. You may need more than one set of images. Each one may take two to 15 minutes. This test may last an hour or more. Ask for earplugs to help block out the loud thumping noise during the scan. Tell the technician if you are claustrophobic, so that you may be given some medicine to help you relax or make you sleepy before having this test.
This test uses sound waves to produce pictures of your internal organs on a screen. Ultrasound can help your doctor see if your organs and lymph nodes are swollen. The test is painless and takes only a few minutes. You lie on a table. The person doing the test may rub gel on your skin before passing the ultrasound wand, called a transducer, over the area being examined.
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