Diagnostic imaging has become an important part of medical care, thanks to its aid in the diagnosis and treatment of ailments. It also can reduce the number of unnecessary invasive surgeries.
But even with some 80 million computed tomography (CT) scans being performed each year, imaging can cause confusion and anxiety in some patients. One of the best ways to mitigate this discomfort or concern is by being prepared for your imaging appointment; after all, you wouldn’t take an exam without studying first.
Here are five simple tips and tricks from a radiologist to ensure your next imaging test appointment goes well.
Wonderful strides have been made in recent years to streamline the processing of medical paperwork, especially with the switch to electronic documents (in adherence to HIPAA laws). Many patients can now access their records in patient portals, and view all of their previous appointment information, as well as a list of possible diagnostic imaging that has been performed already.
Your physician will mention which paperwork is necessary for you to bring to your radiology appointment. Be sure to make a list of what is needed. You’ll also want to have your medical ID or insurance card in tow – especially if you are new to the imaging facility. Sometimes, if it is your first visit to the site, your patient information may not have transferred over.
Jewelry & Metal Objects
While watches, rings, and other sparkly things can feel like a part of us, it’s best to give them the day off when you go in for an imaging test. So, leave valuable jewelry at home. In addition to keeping jewelry stored in a safe place, metal can interfere with an imaging machine’s proper functioning – especially in the case of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
It’s important to let your physician know if you have any metal or other implanted devices in your body before the scan. If you are a welder, or have been injured, your body could contain pieces of shrapnel. Some medical implants and devices come with a pamphlet or card, which may be helpful to provide to the technician performing your imaging procedure. If possible, you’ll want to have these documents with you.
We all love to smell fresh — but that stick of deodorant or antiperspirant can actually interfere with the images produced in diagnostics. For example, the use of deodorant before a mammogram can result in white spots on the resulting images, making it difficult to be read by a radiologist. If you’re headed to a meeting or some other appointment following your imaging test, stash a stick in your purse or briefcase to stay cool and dry the rest of the day.
Clothing, Other Items
Some imaging facilities will require you to wear a gown during your MRI or other imaging procedure. However, if you ask, you may be able to wear your own loose-fitting or comfortable clothing. Just be sure these items don’t have any metal fasteners or zippers which – much like jewelry – can affect the final results.
Remove hearing aids, hairpins, dentures, wigs, underwire bras, and other miscellaneous items before the test. If you’re unsure of what is able to go through the machine, you can contact your imaging center for a list of approved items.
Do you know what medications you are taking? It’s always a good idea to keep a current list of them, as most physicians will ask prior to performing any procedure. Keep them in your phone, or on a piece of paper in your wallet so that it’s handy on the day of your imaging appointment.
Whether to take your usual medications before imaging will depend on the type of test you’re having. For example, MRIs don’t require any fasting beforehand, so you should be able to take your normal medications. If anesthesia is being used – for example, for those with claustrophobia or who require extended testing – will require a period of fasting. A good rule of thumb is to always heed your physician’s advice on preparation to ensure an easy visit.
Independent Imaging is run by a team of venerated professionals, each accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). For more than 30 years, they have made it their mantra to deliver patient-centered care. They happily assist patients with any concerns or questions regarding preparation for exams. Simply dial (561) 795-5558 to call their office and speak with an associate.