Spiral CT Scan
Helical (Spiral) CT is a vast improvement over conventional CT scans. The patient lies on an exam table that passes through a doughnut-shaped scanner, while an X-ray tube rotates around the table. This movement results in a spiral shaped continuous data set without any gaps. With the helical CT, there is less likelihood to miss small tumors or abnormalities, and spiral CT is about 8 to 10 times faster than a traditional CT. This procedure is especially beneficial to the elderly, very young patients and acutely injured patients who are sensitive to longer exam times.
Ultrasound, or sonography, uses high frequency sound waves to see inside the body. A device that acts like a microphone and speaker is placed in contact with the body using ultrasound gel to transmit the sound. As the sound waves pass through the body, echoes are produced, and bounce back to the transducer. These echoes can help doctors determine the location of a structure or abnormality, as well as information about its make up. Ultrasound is a painless way to examine internal organs such as the heart, liver, blood vessels, breast, kidney or gall bladder, and is most commonly known for its ability to examine a fetus in the mother’s womb.
Nuclear medicine uses cost-effective techniques to obtain images of the body and treat disease. It is used in the diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of serious disease and can often be used to identify abnormalities very early in the progression of a disease. Early detection allows a disease to be treated early in its course when there may be a more successful prognosis.
MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create clear and detailed pictures of internal organs and tissues. In MRI, radio waves are directed at the body’s protons within the magnetic field. The protons become “excited”, and as they “relax” and emit radio signals, they are processed by a computer to create an image. MRI is very useful in diagnosing diseases in all parts of the body including cancer, vascular and heart disease, liver and bile duct abnormalities, stroke, other neurological diseases and joint and musculoskeletal disorders. An MRI exam usually will take anywhere from 30-50 minutes and consists of several imaging series. Most studies will require a small intravenous injection of an MRI contrast agent that usually contains the metal Gadolinium. MRI contrast does not contain iodine, an element that is used in other contrast agents for X-rays or CT scans. Thousands of MRI’s are conducted each year, and technology has improved this system so vastly that a doctor can image abnormalities in a matter of seconds.
An X-ray image is produced when a small amount of radiation passes through the body to sensors on the other side. The sensors then use the data they receive to create a digital image. The ability of X-rays to penetrate tissues and bones depends on the tissue's composition and mass. The difference between these two elements creates the images. Patients may be asked to drink contrast agents, such as barium, to highlight the esophagus, stomach and intestine. Chest X-rays are the most common radiologic examination.
Fluoroscopy is a study of moving body structures, similar to an x-ray “movie.” It is used in many various procedures, such as cardiac catheterization, biopsies, the visualization of joints and lumbar puncture. Occasionally, fluoroscopy may be used in conjunction with other procedures. Fluoroscopy can also be used to locate foreign bodies and in the injection of anesthetics into joints or the spine.