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» What is radiology?
Radiology, sometimes referred to as medical imaging or diagnostic imaging, involves the use of different technologies to produce images of the human body. These technologies include x-ray, fluoroscopy, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (or CAT scanning), mammography, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine. Each imaging technology has properties that make it more advantageous or useful for looking at different parts and functions of the human body.
» Do all medical imaging technologies involve radiation?
No. Some, like MRI and ultrasound, do not. MRI uses magnetic energy to image the body, while ultrasound produces images based on sound waves. Technologies that use radiation include x-ray, CT, mammography, and nuclear medicine.
» Is radiation safe?
Most diagnostic procedures produce only a small amount of radiation and are usually considered very safe. If your doctor has referred you for a diagnostic procedure, he/she believes that the small amount of radiation involved is less harmful than an undiagnosed problem or disease. If you have many diagnostic procedures involving radiation, the cumulative dose may or may not be important. You should ask your physician if you have further questions.
» Do imaging procedures hurt?
Most of the diagnostic procedures involve no discomfort. Many diagnostic procedures use contrast agents (pharmaceuticals that make your blood vessels or organs show up better on the images). These contrast agents are often injected through a needle into a vein, which can cause some discomfort. Other procedures, such as angiograms and biopsies, may cause some discomfort. For most procedures you will be given detailed informed consent forms describing the procedure and disclosing the risks and alternatives.
» Can I eat or drink anything before my exam?
Some radiology procedures may require that you not eat or drink before the exam. If you haven't already received instructions, you should contact our office to see if you can eat or drink before your procedure.
» Will I have to miss work?
Most of our procedures are routine and allow you to immediately return to work. There are some procedures that require bed rest. The amount of time you will miss from work depends on the procedure.
» Who are some of the people I will see during my radiology exam?
You will probably interact most closely with a radiologic technologist, who will help position you on the equipment during the exam.
» Are technologists medical doctors?
No, but they have received special training in how to operate medical imaging equipment. Technologists are trained in general x-ray procedures, and, if they choose, a specific technology such as mammography.
» What does a technologist do?
Technologists are trained to properly position and expose patients for each diagnostic procedure and to operate the corresponding diagnostic equipment safely and effectively.
» What is a radiologist?
A radiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnostic radiology. A radiologist will supervise your study and then read the images produced during your exam.
» What is a biopsy?
Sometimes, if a radiology procedure detects an abnormality, the radiologist may suggest to your physician that a biopsy be taken. A biopsy involves the removal of a small piece of tissue, either by a knife in surgery or with a needle under imaging guidance. The tissue removed is then prepared and evaluated under a microscope.
» Who will contact me with my results?
Your physician, who requested the exams to be performed, will contact you. In the case of a mammogram, the results may be delivered directly to you and your primary care physician.
» Do I get to keep my x-ray images after the procedure?
Unfortunately, no. Images are considered part of your medical record, and we have a legal responsibility to keep them in our facility for several years in case we, or others, need to reference them in the future. Under certain circumstances they may be checked out and delivered to other healthcare practitioners, or may be copied for the same purpose.
» For what purpose is Ultrasound used in pregnancy?
Estimation of gestational age for patients with uncertain clinical dates, or verification of dates for patients who are to undergo scheduled elective repeat cesarean delivery, indicated induction of labor, or other elective termination of pregnancy. Ultrasonographic confirmation of dating permits proper timing of cesarean delivery or labor induction to avoid premature delivery. Evaluation of fetal growth (e.g., when the patient has an identified etiology for uteroplacental insufficiency, such as severe pre-eclampsia, chronic hypertension, chronic renal disease, severe diabetes mellitus, or for other medical complications of pregnancy where fetal malnutrition, i.e., IUGR or macrosomia, is suspected). Following fetal growth permits assessment of the impact of a complicating condition on the fetus and guides pregnancy management. Vaginal bleeding of undetermined etiology in pregnancy. Ultrasound often allows determination of the source of bleeding and status of the fetus. Determination of fetal presentation when the presenting part cannot be adequately determined in labor or the fetal presentation is variable in late pregnancy. Accurate knowledge of presentation guides management of delivery. Suspected multiple gestation based upon detection of more than one fetal heartbeat pattern, or fundal height larger than expected for dates, and/or prior use of fertility drugs. Pregnancy management may be altered in multiple gestation. Adjunct to amniocentesis. Ultrasound permits guidance of the needle to avoid the placenta and fetus, to increase the chance of obtaining amniotic fluid, and to decrease the chance of fetal loss. Significant uterine size/clinical dates discrepancy. Ultrasound permits accurate dating and detection of such conditions as oligohydramnios and polyhydramnios, as well as multiple gestation, IUGR, and anomalies. Pelvic mass detected clinically. Ultrasound can detect the location and nature of the mass and aid in diagnosis. Suspected hydatidiform mole on the basis of clinical signs of hypertension, proteinuria, and/or the presence of ovarian cysts felt on pelvic examination or failure to detect fetal heart tones with a Doppler ultrasound device after 12 weeks. Ultrasound permits accurate diagnosis and differentiation of this neoplasm from fetal death. Adjunct to cervical cerclage placement. Ultrasound aids in timing and proper placement of the cerclage for patients with incompetent cervix. Suspected ectopic pregnancy or when pregnancy occurs after tuboplasty or prior ectopic gestation. Ultrasound is a valuable diagnostic aid for this complication. Adjunct to special procedures, such as fetoscopy, intrauterine transfusion, shunt placement, in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, or chorionic villi sampling. Ultrasound aids instrument guidance, which increases safety of these procedures. Suspected fetal death. Rapid diagnosis enhances optimal management. Suspected uterine abnormality (e.g., clinically significant leiomyomata, or congenital structural abnormalities, such as bicornuate uterus or uterus didelphys, etc.). Serial surveillance of fetal growth and state enhances fetal outcome. Intrauterine contraceptive device localization. Ultrasound guidance facilitates removal, reducing chances of IUD-related complications. Ovarian follicle development surveillance. This facilitates treatment of infertility. Biophysical evaluation for fetal well-being after 28 weeks of gestation. Assessment of amniotic fluid, fetal tone, body movements, breathing movements, and heart rate patterns assists in the management of high-risk pregnancies. Observation of intrapartum events (e.g., version/extraction of second twin, manual removal of placenta, etc.). These procedures may be done more safely with the visualization provided by ultrasound. Suspected polyhydramnios or oligohydramnios. Confirmation of the diagnosis is permitted, as well as identification of the cause of the condition in certain pregnancies. Suspected abruptio placentae. Confirmation of diagnosis and extent assists in clinical management. Adjunct to external version from breech to vertex presentation. The visualization provided by ultrasound facilitates performance of this procedure. Estimation of fetal weight and/or presentation in premature rupture of membranes and/or premature labor. Information provided by ultrasound guides management decisions on timing and method of delivery. Abnormal serum alpha-fetoprotein value for clinical gestational age when drawn. Ultrasound provides an accurate assessment of gestational age for the AFP comparison standard and indicates several conditions (e.g., twins, anencephaly) that may cause elevated AFP values. Followup observation of identified fetal anomaly. Ultrasound assessment of progression or lack of change assists in clinical decisionmaking. Followup evaluation of placenta location for identified placenta previa. History of previous congenital anomaly. Detection of recurrence may be permitted, or psychologic benefit to patients may result from reassurance of no recurrence. Serial evaluation of fetal growth in multiple gestation. Ultrasound permits recognition of discordant growth, guiding patient management and timing of delivery. Evaluation of fetal condition in late registrants for prenatal care. Accurate knowledge of gestational age assists in pregnancy management decisions for this group.