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Understanding Diagnostic Imaging Exams

 X-RAY  General x-ray,  or radiography, is an exam that captures clear, precise images using radiation. Radiation, a form of energy, exists in nature and emanates from the atmosphere and earth. As with many naturally-occurring substances, radiation, in moderation, is considered harmless. X-ray beams can pass through the human body. When they strike a detector, they produce a picture. Traditional film-based exams have been replaced by digital imaging in many cases. Digital radiography requires no film processing. Test results can be viewed seconds after the exposure is made.

ULTRASOUND Diagnostic ultrasound, also known as medical sonography or ultrasonography, uses high frequency sound waves to create images of the inside of the body. The ultrasound machine sends sound waves into the body and is able to convert the returning sound echoes into a picture. Ultrasound technology can also produce audible sounds of blood flow, allowing medical professionals to use both sounds and visuals to assess a patient’s health.

DEXA The DEXA scan measures bone mineral density, to detect possible osteoporosis. Osteoporosis results from loss of bone mineral to a level which potentially increases the risk of fractures. When the bone density measurements are obtained, they are compared against the normal population of people of the same age, weight, sex and ethnic background, and also against normal young adults.  Your doctor will then use the results to assess fracture risk and decide if any treatment is required.

MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technology that uses radio waves and a magnetic field to create detailed images of organs and tissues. MRI has proven to be highly effective in diagnosing a number of conditions by showing the difference between normal and diseased soft tissues of the body.

COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY (CT) Computed Tomography (CT), also commonly referred to as a CAT scan, is a medical imaging method that combines multiple X-ray projections taken from different angles to produce detailed cross-sectional images of areas inside the body.  CT images allow doctors to get very precise, 3-D views of certain parts of the body, such as soft tissues, the pelvis, blood vessels, the lungs, the brain, the heart, abdomen and bones. CT is also often the preferred method of diagnosing many cancers, such as liver, lung and pancreatic cancers    

PET Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a nuclear imaging technique that provides physicians with information about how tissues and organs are functioning. PET, often used in combination with CT imaging, uses a scanner and a small amount of radiopharmaceuticals which is injected into a patient’s vein to assist in making detailed, computerized pictures of areas inside the body.

PET CT For added precision, physicians use a medical imaging technique that combines PET and CT. This allows images acquired from both devices to be taken sequentially and combined into a single superposed image. PET-CT serves as a prime tool in the delineation of tumor volumes, staging and the preparation of patient treatment plans. The combination has been shown to improve oncologic care by positively impacting active treatment decisions, disease recurrence monitoring and patient outcomes, such as disease-free progression.