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Ultrasound    Mammography    Cat Scan    MRI

Why is ultrasound done?

Ultrasound (sonography) is a relatively inexpensive, fast and radiation-free imaging modality. It is excellent for imaging and diagnosing a number of organs & conditions.

It is also a non-invasive way to image the vascular system. Modern obstetric medicine relies heavily on ultrasound to provide detailed imaging of the fetus & pelvic anatomy. It can show fetal development and bodily function. Ultrasound can also be used to guide needles for aspirations, drainages and biopsies.
How does ultrasound work?

The ultrasound process involves placing a small device called a transducer, against the skin of the patient near the region of interest: it can transmit sound and receive sound.

This transducer produces a stream of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves which penetrate into the body and bounce off the organs inside. The transducer detects sound waves as they bounce off or echo back from the internal structures and contours of the organs.

Different tissues reflect these sound waves differently, causing a signature which can be measured and transformed into an image. These waves are received by the ultrasound machine and turned into live pictures.
Is ultrasound safe?

Information has been collected since the early days of ultrasound, and it is continuing to be collected. So far, no adverse effects or side effects from the sound waves have been documented.
What should I expect during an ultrasound?
  1. The patient will be asked to remove any clothing or jewelry surrounding the area to be imaged.

  2. Then the patient will be positioned on an examination table by a technologist.

  3. A blue gel (which helps to connect the ultrasound transducer to the skin) is applied to the area to be examined.

  4. The technologist/sonographer then places the transducer in contact with the skin and sweeps it back and forth to image the area of interest. Some exams require the patient to hold their breath and turn on their side for better visualization of the anatomy.

  5. After the initial examination, the technologist will ask the patient to wait while the images are reviewed. In some cases the attending radiologist will come in and/or more images will be taken.
Is the technologist registered?

Yes, the technologist is trained in ultrasound and is registered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.
Why can't I have anything to eat for an abdominal ultrasound?

Eating promotes more bowel gas which makes visualization difficult. Also, the gallbladder contracts, preventing a thorough examination.
Why do I have to fill my bladder for a pelvic ultrasound?

The filled bladder is used as a scanning window and is used to push the bowel out of the pelvic cavity for better visualization of the anatomy. In females, the filled bladder also places the uterus in a more horizontal position for optimal scanning ability.
What happens if the gel gets on my clothing?

The gel is water based and can be easily washed out.

Does the mammogram hurt?

The pressure needed for a high-quality mammogram may cause some discomfort for a few moments during the exam. The compression is necessary to spread out the breast tissue so that all the tissues can be seen clearly on the films. This pressure does not harm the breast tissue.
How often should I have a mammogram?

The American Cancer Society recommends:
  • Baseline mammogram at the age of 40
  • Every 1-2 years after the age of 40, or at your physician's discretion
  • Yearly after the age of 50
Why can't I wear perfume, deodorant, lotion, or powder?

Small particles found in these products may be opaque to x-rays and may therefore appear on your mammogram. These particles can mimic dense areas found within the breast tissue, thereby causing unnecessary concern.
Why should I avoid caffeine before my exam?

Breast tissue may be more sensitive due to caffeine intake. Limiting caffeine for a few days before your test may make the exam more comfortable for you.

When will I get my results?

If your mammogram was ordered by your physician, you will be given your results by the radiologist after your exam is done. You will also receive a letter from us with the results approximately 7-10 days after your exam.

If you came in on your own for a screening exam, you will receive a letter from us with your results approximately 7-10 days after your exam. It is important that you arrange to have any previous mammograms available to us at the time of your exam so you can receive a result as soon as possible.
I don't have a doctor. Can I have a mammogram?

Yes, a patient may have a screening mammogram without an order from a doctor. However, we recommend that for your best defense against breast cancer, you should also perform a monthly breast self-exam and have a yearly physical exam by a doctor. If you do not have a doctor, we can help refer you to one for an appointment.

How long will this take?

All scans take about 20-30 minutes, that includes taking PT back screening, getting dressed, and starting IV if needed, actual scans only last 10-30 seconds.
Why do I need an IV?

So we can infuse your x-ray dye. The dye is needed to outline your blood vessels.
Will the dye make me sick?

No, it shouldn't. A few people experience some nausea and feeling of heat, although only for about a minute. It is possible to have some feeling of nausea. You may consider bringing a driver.

There is a slight possibility of having an allergic reaction to the x-ray dye. The only way to know if you will have a reaction is from your previous history or by actually taking the dye. If you do have a reaction, we have medications and a team of highly trained personnel to take care of the problem.
When and how will I get the results?

Your doctor will give you the results as soon as he/she receives them. We try to get them to the doctor within 24 hours.

Why do I have to drink two cups of barium?

It takes at least four cups to properly coat your gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach through the small bowel, to the colon.
Can the technologists tell me what they see on my pictures?

Sorry, the technologist is not able to give you the interpretation of the films. Only a doctor can do that.
Do I need to remove my jewelry or watch?

No, that's not necessary for a CT scan, unless the jewelry is in the area we're scanning.
Will this hurt?

No, it won't hurt. However, each individual has a different degree of pain tolerance.
Can I eat or do normal activities after this test?

Yes, you can resume normal eating and activity.
Will this interfere with any other test?

The dye we give you might interfere with a nuclear medicine test called a thyroid uptake scan.
Is the dye radioactive?

No, contrast dye is not radioactive.
How do I get rid of the barium or IV contrast liquid?

Your kidneys will filter the IV contrast out of your bloodstream within a few hours after the exam. The barium should pass through your gastrointestinal tract normally.
Should I be worried about the amount of x-rays I'm getting?

If your doctor recommended a CT scan, it was because the diagnostic benefit of the x-rays outweighs the risk. The dose of radiation you'll be receiving is low and is confined to a small area.
Can my husband/wife/friend come into the room with me?

No. Even though the dose is low, we prefer not to expose people to x-rays unless they're having the exams themselves.
Should I keep my eyes opened or closed during the exam?

It doesn't matter.
Did the technologists go to school for this?

Yes. First they had to study radiological technology for two years. Then they had to pass a board examination to get a license in this state.

Why does the MRI machine make a knocking sound?

The system has several different pieces of equipment that are hidden under the covers. Some of these are loops of wires that are imbedded in a very hard plastic material.

These wire loops emit a radio frequency that, together with the powerful magnet, take the MRI picture. The radio frequency turns on and off very quickly, approximately every four milliseconds. Because this is so fast, the wires vibrate in the hard plastic and cause the knocking sound.
Can I move while I am in the tube?

You should not move when you hear the knocking sound. In between pictures, for most exams, you may reposition your arms, or scratch your nose. It is important that you not move the body part being imaged until the exam is complete.
Can I talk with anyone during the scan?

You may talk to the technologist or ask a question in between pictures. You will know when a picture is complete because the knocking and slight vibration will stop.
Can I bring a friend or relative into the scan room with me?

All people entering the MRI scan room must be checked for metal in or on their body. As long as your companion is checked and cleared to enter the MRI scan room safely, he or she may accompany you for the exam.

Is there any harm to my friend if they stay in the room during my scan?

Information has been collected since the early days of clinical MRI, and it is continuing to be collected. So far, no adverse effects or side effects from the magnet or the radio frequency used in clinical MRI have been documented. To protect their hearing, we offer earplugs to patients and to visitors staying in the room.
Do I need an injection?

Not everyone needs an injection for the MRI. The radiologist decides whether you need an injection based on the body part being examined and your symptoms. This information is given to us by your doctor.
What kind of injection is given for a MRI?

If your exam does require the use of the injection, a small needle is inserted into a vein in your arm. We let some normal saline drip into the vein first. This is to keep access open to the vein during the MRI exam.

About two-thirds of the way through the exam, we will inject a contrast agent called "gadolinium." This material is only used for MRI. You may feel a cool sensation going up your arm. As with anything taken into your body, there is a very slight chance of an allergic reaction.
Can I breastfeed after an injection?

We recommend waiting for 24 hours after the injection before breastfeeding again. You may wish to pump breast milk prior to the MRI exam and store it for use during this 24-hour period.
Can I have an MRI if I am pregnant?

There is no known reason not to have an MRI during pregnancy. However, we generally try to avoid offering this exam if you're in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

We ask that your doctor speak with one of the MRI radiologists (the doctors who specialize in MRI) to discuss whether this is the best exam to help diagnose your medical symptoms.
Is it OK to have an MRI if I have filling in my teeth?

Yes, you will not be harmed by having an MRI if you have fillings. Even though the fillings are metal, the type of metal that is in the fillings is not pulled by the magnet. We may see some distortion of the pictures if you are having a scan of your neck, brain, or facial area.
What if I have braces on my teeth?

If you have braces and need a scan of your brain or facial area, the MRI system may have difficulty "tuning" to your body. (The process is similar to tuning in a radio to a specific frequency or radio station.) The tuning process can be confused if metal is in the MRI machine.

Unfortunately, we cannot know in advance how much distortion may result on the pictures. The amount of distortion depends on the amount of metal in the area.

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