Diagnostic imaging tools reveal with certainty what is happening inside the body, and can help confirm conditions a doctor may suspect. If your doctor recommends imaging, he may order any number of exams to gather the data required to diagnose and treat you properly. Here is more about the different types of imaging exams your doctor may order, and how each is unique.
The oldest and most commonly used method of imaging techniques, the X-ray allows doctors to see the hard structures of the human body like bones and teeth. The X-ray, which is a form of radiation that works on a wavelength and frequency invisible to the naked eye, is capable of safely penetrating the skin to reveal injury, damage, tumors and abnormal growths. X-rays can be done in virtually any position and taken of any structure on the body and are safe for nearly all patients.
Bone Density Scan
As people age, they run the risk of developing osteoporosis, a disorder of the bone that is indicative of the progressive loss of bone tissue. Bone density scans are simple, non-invasive diagnostic X-ray tests that use the DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) bone densitometry machine to administer very low doses of radiation to produce an image of the bone to calculate bone strength. A bone density scan is a simple and non-invasive procedure that is used to measure bone mass and assist in the diagnosis of osteoporosis in men and women usually over age 50.
Computer Tomography – the CT Scan
Computer Tomography – CT scans – also use the power of X-rays to create cross-sectional images of the body, providing doctors with an unobstructed look at organs and structures that otherwise would not be clearly seen on the more convention X-ray. During a CT scan, the patient lies on a motorized table inside a large circular chamber while the low-dose X-ray source and its detector or receiver rotate around the patient to create a series of 3D “slices” of the inside of the body. Stacked together, these slices create a virtual, 3D representation of the affected area and can be viewed as a whole, or by themselves.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, allows doctors to see inside a joint or ligament and is used to diagnose tumors, spinal cord injuries, strokes, aneurysms and brain functions. The advantage of the MRI is that it does not use any radiation but rather a strong magnetic field and radio waves combined to generate images of the body that cannot be seen with X-rays or CT scans. In the past, MRIs often proved a source of anxiety due to their closed, confined structure. However, the open MRI is perfect for those who are claustrophobic, have limited mobility, or who otherwise would rather not have a traditional MRI. Additionally, high-risk patients, particularly those who may not be eligible for contrast MRIs due to risks associated with contrast agents, may now have the option to use advanced applications that are able to clearly visualize vascular structures.
An ultrasound refers to the procedure and the images created are referred to as sonograms. To produce the sonogram, the doctor relies on sound waves that are transmitted from a handheld probe, through a conducting gel placed on the patient, and bounced back when the sound waves hit structures in the body. These sound waves create the 3D representation of the imaged area that is used for diagnostic purposes, most commonly for imaging a baby in the womb. There are even 4D ultrasounds that create a 3D image and then depict the motion of the subject being imaged.
Digital mammography provides a low-dose X-ray of the breasts, primarily to detect lesions (abnormal growths) that may be too small or deeply buried to be felt in regular breast self-examination. Mammography also may be used to evaluate breast implants for possible rupture.
Nuclear Medicine Tests
Nuclear medicine tests use radioactive radionuclide or radioisotope tracers and a special camera to record images of the organs and tissue and is most commonly used during cardiac stress tests, scans of major organs and the thyroid, 3-phase bone scans and brain SPECT scans. During a nuclear medicine test, a very small, safe amount of tracer is injected into a vein; the tracer emits gamma rays that are detected by a special camera positioned near the affected organ. The tracer remains in the body only a short period of time, then is eliminated by urine or stool.
Your Imaging Experts
And as technology continues to improve, so too do the chances of detecting conditions considerably earlier and with more accuracy than in years past. When it comes to getting the big picture, don’t trust your imaging needs to just anyone. Independent Imaging offers state-of-the-art equipment and experienced, trained medical experts to fulfill any diagnostic imaging needs. Independent Imaging offers central scheduling, extended night and Saturday appointments, is fully accredited by the American College of Radiology, and overseen by board-certified, fellowship-trained radiologists. Schedule your next exam securely by clicking here, or call us today at (561) 795-5558.