General Radiography (X-ray)
Standard x-rays are performed for many reasons, including diagnosing tumors or bone injuries. X-rays are made by using external radiation to produce images of the body, its organs, and other internal structures for diagnostic purposes. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, just like visible light. In a health care setting, x-rays are emitted by a machine as individual "particles" (photons). These participles pass through the body and are detected by a Computed Radiography (CR) cassette. Structures that are dense (such as bone) will block most of the photons and will appear white on the image. Structures containing air will be black on the image, while muscle, fat, and fluid will appear as shades of gray.
Fluoroscopy is a study of moving body structures that you could compare to an x-ray "movie." A continuous x-ray beam is passed through the body part being examined that is transmitted to a TV-like monitor so that the body part and its motion can be seen in detail. Fluoroscopy is used in many types of examinations and procedures, such as barium X-rays for the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract known as upper gastrointestinal (UGI) and barium enema (BE). Fluoroscopy is also utilized to evaluate iodinated contrast exams, such as (VCUG) voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) and hysterosalpingogram (HSG).
Often times referred to as CT or CAT scan, Computed Axial Tomography is an effective tool that can see into areas of the body that cannot be seen on regular x-ray examinations. Normal x-ray films are two dimensional; however a CT scanner uses multi-row x-ray detectors to sense how radiation is absorbed by different tissues. The detector system sends the information to a computer which transforms the data into computer images of the body part scanned. This data can be manipulated and re-assembled to show structures in many different three dimensional (3D) planes. The most common CT procedures involve the brain, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and spine.
Although the images from a CT scan and MRI may look similar, they are totally different. The MRI does not use radiation. Instead, it makes use of a powerful magnetic field and radiofrequencies that cause the body's hydrogen atoms to move in and out of normal alignment. The process of re-alignment is recorded to produce pictures or images of your internal organs and structures. While CT can differentiate between soft tissues and bony structures, MRI is preferable when imaging soft tissues. Most common MRI studies are of the brain, knee, shoulder, spine, abdomen and the vascular system.
Ultrasound imaging, also called Sonography, is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high-frequency sound waves. The reflected sound wave echoes are recorded and displayed as a real-time visual image. No ionizing radiation (x-ray) is involved in Ultrasound imaging. Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body's internal organs including but not limited to the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, uterus, ovaries, and bladder. In addition, Ultrasound imaging is an extremely valuable diagnostic tool when performing OB examinations to evaluate the gestational age and growth of your baby during pregnancy.
Ask your physician about 3D Ultrasound imaging. Midland Memorial Radiology is proud to bring this leading edge technology to our patients and physicians as we continue to provide the highest quality of patient care.
Interventional Radiology (IR) – Special Procedures
Interventional Radiology (IR) is a subspecialty of Radiology that encompasses procedures performed using imaging guidance such as Fluoroscopy, CT, Ultrasound, and MRI to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions. Because diagnostic imaging and interventional techniques can eliminate the need for more invasive and costly exploratory surgery, these "special procedures" help reduce patient recovery time, with results that are equal or superior to those experienced through more invasive procedures. Interventional Radiologists use their expertise in reading x-rays, Ultrasounds and other medical images to guide small instruments such as catheters (tubes that measure just a few millimeters in diameter) through the blood vessels or other pathways to treat disease percutaneously (through the skin).
Nuclear Medicine is a specialized area of Radiology that uses very small amounts of radioactive materials (radiopharmaceuticals), to examine organ function and structure. Nuclear Medicine imaging is a combination of many different disciplines, including chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer technology, and medicine. This branch of Radiology is often used to help diagnose and treat abnormalities very early in the progression of a disease, such as thyroid cancer. Because x-rays pass through soft tissue, (such as intestines, muscles, and blood vessels), these tissues are difficult to visualize on a standard x-ray unless a contrast agent is used to cause the tissue to be seen more clearly. Nuclear imaging enables visualization of organ and tissue structure as well as their function. The extent to which a radiopharmaceutical is absorbed, or "taken-up," by a particular organ or tissue may indicate the level of function of the organ or tissue being studied. Thus, diagnostic x-rays are used primarily to study anatomy, whereas nuclear imaging is used to study organ and tissue function.
Nuclear Medicine scans are used to diagnose many medical conditions and diseases. Some of the more common nuclear examinations include: renal scans, thyroid scans, bone scans, gallium scans, and brain scans.
A mammogram is an x-ray examination of the breast. It is used to detect and diagnose breast disease in women who either have breast abnormalities such as a lump, pain, or nipple discharge, as well as for women who have no breast complaints. There are two types of mammograms, the Screening Mammogram and the Diagnostic Mammogram.
A Screening Mammogram is an x-ray of the breast used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs of breast cancer. The exam usually involves two x-rays of each breast from different angles. A screening mammogram can detect a tumor that cannot be felt by self examination.
A Diagnostic Mammogram is an x-ray of the breast used to diagnose unusual breast changes, such as a lump, pain, nipple thickening or discharge, or change in breast size or shape. A diagnostic mammogram is also used to evaluate abnormalities detected on a screening mammogram. It is an excellent medical tool and is appropriate in the work-up of breast changes, regardless of a woman's age.
Mammography has been a significant tool in fighting breast cancer for 30 years. In the past 15 years, major technical advancements have greatly improved the detection rate of abnormalities. The specialized equipment used today for breast imaging produces studies that are high in quality but low in radiation dose. Radiation risks are considered to be negligible.
Allison Women's Imaging provides screening mammograms, diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasound, stereotactic biopsies, and pre-operative needle localizations.
Allison Women's Imaging (AWI) is proud to offer another technological advancement with Computer Assisted Detection (CAD). CAD is a computer program that digitizes Mammography images and analyzes them for areas in the breast that may contain features associated with cancer. After the images are analyzed, the computer prints a paper copy of the images with any suspicious areas highlighted. This draws the attention of the Radiologist to these areas so the Radiologist may take a closer look at the mammogram films and decide if more detailed images may be required. CAD acts as a quick and accurate second look at the mammogram films and Allison Women's Imaging is proud to provide this technology to our patients.
Bone Densitometry (DEXA)
DEXA bone densitometry is a test designed to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that often affects women after menopause but may also be found in men. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, causing the bones to become thinner, more fragile and more likely to break. Bone density studies are critical in diagnosing osteoporosis but are also extremely important in the prediction and prevention of developing fractures due to this disease. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for bone density testing. As with other diseases and conditions, early detection is the key to prevention of further bone loss and eventual fractures.
Diagnostic Imaging Associates West (DIAW) performs bone density studies using today's established standard (DEXA) for measuring your bone mineral density (BMD). For post-menopausal women, bone density testing is a covered Medicare benefit and most PPO's and private insurances also cover this procedure.