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Knowledge Center

What is MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, uses strong magnet and radio waves to provide clear and detailed diagnostic images of internal body organs and tissues. MRI is a valuable tool for the diagnosis of a broad range of conditions, including:

  • cancer
  • heart and vascular disease
  • stroke
  • joint and musculoskeletal disorders

MRI allows evaluation of some body structures that may not be as visible with other diagnostic imaging methods.

What are some common uses of MRI?

Imaging of the Musculoskeletal System: MRI is often used to study the knee, ankle, foot, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand. MRI is also a highly accurate method for evaluation of soft tissue structures such as tendons and ligaments, which are seen in great detail. Even subtle injuries are easily detected. In addition, MRI is used for the diagnosis of spinal problems including disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and spinal tumors.

MRIImaging of the Heart: MRI of the heart, aorta, coronary arteries, and blood vessels is a tool for diagnosing coronary artery disease and other heart problems. Doctors can examine the size and thickness of the chambers of the heart and determine the extent of damage caused by a heart attack or heart disease.

Imaging for Cancer & Functional Disorders: Organs of the chest and abdomen such as the liver, lungs, kidney, and other abdominal organs can be examined in great detail with MRI. This aids in the diagnosis and evaluation of tumors and functional disorders. In the early diagnosis of breast cancer, MRI is an alternative to traditional x-ray mammography. Furthermore because there is no radiation exposure is involved, MRI is often used for examination of the male and female reproductive systems.

How should I prepare for an MRI?

  • Before your MRI exam, remove all accessories including hair pins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, wigs, dentures. During the exam, these metal objects may interfere with the magnetic field, affecting the quality of the MRI images taken.
  • Notify your technologist if you have:
    1. any prosthetic joints – hip, knee
    2. a heart pacemaker (or artificial heart valve), defibrillator or artificial heart value
    3. an intrauterine device (IUD),
    4. any metal plates, pins, screws, or surgical staples in your body.
    5. tattoos and permanent make-up.
    6. a bullet or shrapnel in your body, or ever worked with metal.
    7. if you might be pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant.
    8. if you are claustrophobic. Some patients who undergo MRI in an enclosed unit may feel confined. If you are not easily reassured, a sedative may be administered.

What is Coronary CT Angiography used to diagnose?

Coronary Artery Disease is the single leading cause of death in the United States. Of the 1.2 million Americans who have heart attacks every year, approximately 150,000 of them die without showing any symptoms. With the advancement of CT scanners, this technology is being used to identify and diagnose diseases and conditions affecting the flow of blood in veins and arteries throughout the body in patients with and without symptoms. Typical vessels examined include those serving the brain and those bringing blood to the heart, lungs, kidneys, arms, and legs. Compared to traditional catheter angiography, CTA is much less invasive, more patient-friendly and in many cases presents a cost effective alternative that delivers better detail and more information.

What is Coronary CT Angiography?

Coronary CT Angiography is a minimally invasive diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a state- of –the-art CT scanner to provide high-speed x-ray images of literally hundreds of cross-sectional views of your body to yield detailed images of the blood flowing through the veins and arteries. When the CT scanner completes its programmed scan of the particular area that needs to be studied, a powerful computer takes the digitally stored data from the images and reconstructs them in 3D. This allows the radiologist to view your anatomy from any angle without having the image blocked by intervening structures. The images presented provide extremely accurate information for the radiologist to make a diagnosis so your cardiologist and or physician can treat you.

Is Coronary CT Angiography right for me?

Your physician or cardiologist determines if coronary CTA is appropriate for your condition. Generally speaking, if you have symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain indicating the possibility of coronary artery disease, you would be considered a candidate for the exam. Additionally, there are many people who do not outwardly show any symptoms however, they do have conditions which are associated with risk factors for the disease. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, are overweight, smoke or lead a sedentary lifestyle, any one of these factors or a combination of them would make you a candidate for the exam pending your physician’s approval.

Is Coronary CT Angiography Safe?

Not only is this technique invaluable for delineation of the body’s blood vessels, it is also relatively safe, convenient and much less invasive than traditional angiography where a sizable catheter is generally threaded through a vein or artery. In many cases, CT angiography may eliminate the need for surgery. The major risk associated with CT angiography is an allergic reaction to contrast materials used to improve the visualization of the veins and arteries.

How should I prepare for this procedure?

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure. Metal objects such as jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins should not be worn since they could negatively affect the CT images. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids and dental work, such as bridges and dentures. You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours before the exam, especially if contrast material will be used. You should inform your technologist or physician of any medications you are taking and whether or not you have any allergies, especially to contrast materials. You should also tell your technologist or physician of any recent illnesses, if you are pregnant or have other medical conditions such as a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and kidney disease or thyroid problems. Women who are breastfeeding may find it advisable to pump breast milk ahead of time so that it can be used until all the contrast material has been removed from your body.

What should I expect during this exam?

The procedure generally takes about an hour. Depending on the area to be examined, you will be positioned on the CT table on your back, side or stomach and straps and pillows may be used to help maintain the correct position and hold you still during the exam. A nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous line (IV) into your hand or arm and a small amount of contrast material may be injected to see how long it takes to reach the area to be examined. After this, the CT table with you on it will be moved quickly through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for the scan and a test image will be taken. The actual exam will begin after this and you will move slowly through the scanner. At all times a technologist will be able to see, hear and speak with you. While the images are being recorded, you will hear an array of noises and an automatic injector connected to the IV will inject contrast material at a controlled rate. You may be asked to hold your breath during the scanning. When the exam is complete your IV will be removed.

While the scanning causes no pain, there may be discomfort from having to remain still for several minutes. For patients who find it difficult to remain still or who are claustrophobic or in chronic pain, a mild sedative prescribed by their physician may provide relief. If intravenous contrast material is used, you may experience a warm, flushed sensation and a metallic taste in your mouth that lasts for a few minutes. Minor reactions include itching and hives which can be relieved with medication. Light-headedness or difficulty breathing indicate a more severe allergic reaction and you should tell the technologist or nurse about it. After the exam, and depending upon whether or not contrast material was used, you can return to your normal activities.

What is Fluoroscopy?

With the aid of a contrast agent, Fluoroscopy enables a x-ray technologist to capture an image of an internal body organ while it is functioning. This contrast agent allows the image to be viewed clearly on a monitor or screen.

What are some common uses of Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is used to screen for ulcers, benign tumors (polyps, for example), cancer, or signs of certain other intestinal illnesses.

What types of tests are given?

  • Barium Swallow
  • Myelography
  • Upper GI
  • Lower GI (Barium Enema)
  • Small Bowel Follow Through

How should I prepare for this procedure?

  • Preparation varies depending on the type of test given - Lower and Upper GI, Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP). Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your exam.
  • You should inform your doctor about any recent illnesses or other medical conditions, as well as any allergies you might have to medications.
  • Women should always inform the technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

What should I expect during this exam?

  • Fluoroscopy is generally painless.
  • Depending on the type of fluoroscopic test you undergo, in general you will be asked to lie or stand between the X-ray machine and a fluorescent screen after putting on a gown.
  • An X-ray scanner produces fluoroscopic images of the body part being examined.
  • You may be repositioned frequently to enable the radiologist or technologist to capture different views.

What is Ultrasound Imaging?

Ultrasound imaging, also called sonography, is a method of obtaining diagnostic images from inside the human body through the use of high frequency sound waves. Utrasonography is used as a diagnostic tool that can assist doctors with making recommendations for further treatment.

What are some common uses of Ultrasound

  • Viewing an unborn fetus.
  • Examining many of the body's internal organs, including the heart, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder.
  • Show movement of internal tissues and organs, enable physicians to see blood flow and heart valve functions.
  • Used to guide procedures such as needle biopsies.
  • Image the breast and to guide biopsy of breast cancer.
  • Evaluate superficial structures, such as the thyroid gland and scrotum (testicles).

How should I prepare for an Ultrasound?

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Depending on the type of ultrasound exam you have, you will be asked:
    1. Not to eat or drink for up to 12 hours before your appointment, or
    2. Drink up to six glasses of water two hours prior to your exam and avoid urinating. This will ensure a full bladder when the exam begins.

What should I expect during this exam?

The examination usually takes less than 30 minutes. After being positioned on the exam table, a clear gel is applied in the area being examined. This helps the transducer make contact with the skin. The technologist firmly presses the transducer against the skin and moves it back and forth to image the area of interest.

Generally, the technologist is able to review the ultrasound images in real-time or, when the examination is complete and the gel is wiped off, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed, either on film or monitor.

What will I experience during the procedure?

Most ultrasound exams are painless. The gel applied to your skin may be a bit cold and there may be varying degrees of discomfort and pressure as the technologist guides the transducer over your abdomen, especially if you are required to have a full bladder.

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine, or scan, uses a small amount of a radioactive substance to produce two or three dimensional images of body anatomy and function. The diagnostic images produced by a nuclear scan are used to evaluate a variety of diseases. Sometimes a nuclear scan is combined with a CT scan.

What are some common uses of Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine images can assist the physician in viewing, monitoring, or diagnosing:

  • tumors
  • blood flow and function of the heart
  • respiratory and blood-flow problems in the lungs
  • organ function – of the kidney, bowel, gallbladder and others

How should I prepare for this procedure?

Usually, no special preparation is needed. However, if the exam is done to evaluate the stomach, you may be asked to refrain from eating immediately before the test. If the exam is done to evaluate the kidneys, you may need to drink plenty of water before the test.

What should I expect during this exam?

Although imaging time can vary, the exam generally takes 20 to 45 minutes.

  • A radiopharmaceutical, known as a tracer, is usually administered either intravenously or by mouth. What radiopharmaceutical is used and when the imaging will be done - immediately, a few hours later, or even several days after the injection, is dependent upon the type of exam you’re having.
  • For most nuclear scans, you will lie down on a table and a nuclear imaging camera will be used to capture the image of the area being examined. The camera is either suspended over or below the exam table or in a large donut-shaped machine similar to a CT scanner. While the images are being obtained, you must remain as still as possible.
  • Most of the radioactivity is expelled out of your body in urine or stool. The rest simply disappears through over time.

What will I experience during the procedure?

Although usually done with a small needle, some patients experience some minor discomfort from the intravenous injection, or IV. Also, lying still on the examining table may be uncomfortable for some patients. You will hear low-level clicking or buzzing noises from the machine.