An x-ray is an imaging exam that produces images of your bones and other internal organs in a fast, painless manner. X-rays are done to determine the existence of a wide range of conditions, including tooth decay, arthritis, bone cancer, lung cancer, and problems affecting the digestive tract. While x-rays expose patients to radiation, the amount is too small to pose any major risks; nevertheless, women that are or might be pregnant should inform their doctors beforehand to prevent potential harm to their unborn child.
Nuclear medicine specialists use safe, painless, and cost-effective techniques to image the body and treat disease. It provides doctors with information about both structure and function. Nuclear Medicine procedures often identify abnormalities very early in the progress of disease – long before many medical problems are apparent with other diagnostic tests.
Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials (radiopharmaceuticals) to diagnose and treat disease. The amount of radiation in a typical nuclear imaging procedure is comparable with that received during a diagnostic x-ray, and the amount received in a typical treatment procedure is kept within safe limits.
A mammogram is an imaging examination of the breast performed to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, often before any signs or symptoms of the disease are present. This exam is recommended annually for women over the age of 40. In addition to age, patients who have a personal or family history of breast cancer, abnormal breast changes or long-term use of hormone therapy may also be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer and should be screened on a regular basis.
Mammograms may be performed for screening or diagnostic purposes. Screenings involve producing images of both breasts in order to detect any tumors that cannot yet be felt under the skin. They can also detect calcium deposits that may indicate breast cancer. Diagnostic mammograms are performed after a lump or other sign of breast cancer has been detected, or after abnormalities were present during a screening mammogram. This procedure targets a specific area of the breast and takes more detailed images from many different angles.
Computed tomography (CT), or CAT scan, uses X-rays to obtain images of the body. CT scans are highly useful for examining injuries and abnormalities, guiding needle biopsies and aiding in surgical preparation.
The patient is positioned on a table on his or her back, side or stomach, and may be provided with pillows for comfortable support. The table moves very slowly through the doughnut-shaped CT scanner. The X-ray beam inside the CT unit spirals slowly around the patient on all sides, creating 360-degree images or "slices" of the area being examined. As the patient moves through the unit, many slices are captured. The images are then combined to produce a highly detailed, three-dimensional digital image.
DEXA (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) is an enhanced X-ray image of the skeleton that provides the most accurate measurements of bone density available. Bone density tests are used to determine whether patients have osteoporosis, a condition in which bones are weakened and fracture easily.
Ultrasound imaging, or sonography, produces images of the inside of the body using high-frequency sound waves. These images are captured in real-time, and are able to show the structure and movement of the organs.
Ultrasound imaging can be used to monitor and diagnose a wide range of conditions within nearly any system of the body. This test may be performed on patients experiencing pain, swelling or infection in a certain area of the body.
It is especially useful for examining the breasts, bladder, thyroid, abdominal organs and male and female reproductive organs, and for obtaining images of fetuses in the womb. In addition, ultrasound is often used as a real-time guide during needle biopsies for the precise sampling of tissue.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive, radiation-free scanning technology that uses radio waves and magnetic fields to produce clear and detailed three-dimensional images of nearly any organ or hard and soft tissues in the body. MRI can be used to identify or precisely locate an injury or abnormality, to scan for developing problems or analyze damage from previous trauma, and to aid in the planning of surgery.
MRI produces images of any area of the body and can be an invaluable tool for detecting tumors, infection, cancer and damage to the eye and inner ear, nervous system, heart and blood vessels, joint and musculoskeletal systems, major organs and male and female reproductive systems.
Interventional radiology is a medical sub-specialty of radiology which utilizes minimally-invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system. The concept behind interventional radiology is to diagnose and treat patients using the least invasive techniques currently available in order to minimize risk to the patient and improve health outcomes.
Many conditions that once required surgery can now be treated non-surgically by interventional radiologists. By minimizing the physical trauma to the patient, peripheral interventions can reduce infection rates and recovery time.
PET/CT is a new imaging tool that combines two scan techniques in one exam – a PET scan and a CT scan. PET/CT, like Nuclear Medicine procedures, requires an injection of a small radiopharmaceutical and is mainly used for diagnosis, staging, or restaging malignant disease and metastases. It can also be used to differentiate dementia verses Alzheimer’s disease. The two procedures together provide information about the location, nature of, and the extent of the diagnosed cancer.