If you’ve been referred to Concord Imaging Center in San Antonio for nuclear medicine, you probably have some questions about what to expect. This kind of medical imaging test might sound intimidating, but in reality, it is virtually painless and involves no more radiation than a typical X-ray.
When you go in for a nuclear medicine imaging test, you will receive an injection of a radiopharmaceutical substance. The needle prick is the only part of the test that causes even mild discomfort. After the injection, you will wait a specified amount of time for the substance to travel to organs that are being tested. When it is time for the scan, you will be asked to remain still so that the images are as clear as possible. Depending on the reason for your test, the scan will take between 20 and 45 minutes. After your test, any small amount of radiation in your body will be expelled through urine and stool for up to a few days after the scan.
Positron emission tomography scans, or PET scans , do more than static medical imaging tests, like MRIs and CT scans. PET scans show your doctor the chemical changes that happen in the metabolism because of diseased or abnormal cells. PET scans can be used in conjunction with other medical imaging tests in San Antonio for a number of reasons, including cancer care. Pet scans are used in a number of different ways in cancer care, including the following applications.
PET scans are helpful in diagnosing cancer because they don’t simply provide anatomical imaging but also offer biological information. Through a PET scan, your doctor can see areas of your body with high rates of sugar metabolism, which can indicate an active tumor. Cancerous cells thrive on sugar, so when a PET scan is performed after a glucose injection, abnormal, potentially cancerous cells will consume the glucose faster than other parts of the body. Often, PET scans are combined with CT scans to make a cancer diagnosis both at the outset of the disease and when cancer recurs after treatment.
For patients undergoing cancer treatment, PET scans help to evaluate the effectiveness of their care plans. Through a PET scan, doctors can determine if the treatment is shrinking the tumor or if a change needs to be made to the types of treatment being used. During cancer treatment, patients may undergo multiple PET scans in conjunction with other tests designed to determine how well different treatments are working.
In order to make decisions about different treatments, doctors have to understand if cancer has spread beyond its origin point. PET scans help providers find cancer in other parts of the body that can indicate that the disease has metastasized. This process also helps doctors determine the stage of the cancer, which is an important part of making treatment decisions.
Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating diagnosis, but identifying the condition early so that treatment can begin may slow the progression of the symptoms. PET scans have become an important part of diagnosing and tracking the disease progression. If you or a loved one has been referred for a PET scan in San Antonio for Alzheimer’s testing, here is what you need to know.
What is a PET scan?
Positron emission tomography—or PET—scans are a type of medical imaging test that rely on the use of a radioactive tracer. The tracer is injected before the scan and is absorbed by organs and soft tissue to make them easier to see. PET scans are different from other types of imaging tests because they allow physicians to see metabolic changes on the cellular level that are occurring in tissues. This ability is why PET scans are so commonly used during cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as Alzheimer’s disease management.
How are PET scans used for Alzheimer’s disease?
If your physician suspects that you have Alzheimer’s disease, then he or she may refer you for a PET scan to see what is happening in your brain. On a PET scan, your physician can see bundles of abnormal cells called plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques are often visible before symptoms appear, which allows for earlier diagnosis than ever before. Your doctor may order a PET scan if you have any symptoms of the disease, if your lab tests indicate that you could have Alzheimer’s disease, or if you have a family history of the condition and wish to have some peace of mind.
What are the benefits of PET scans for Alzheimer’s?
The potential for early diagnosis is extremely beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients. The earlier someone with the disease takes medications, the more likely it is that they will be able to delay the progression of symptoms. PET scans are also helping people with dementia who might otherwise be treated for Alzheimer’s but who don’t actually have it get an accurate diagnosis so that they can receive the appropriate treatment.
Medical imaging plays an important role in both diagnosing various medical conditions and tracking the effectiveness of treatments. If your physician refers you to an imaging center in San Antonio , this video will help you understand some of the tests you may undergo.
For patients, medical imaging tests are generally painless. Most of them involve very little, if any, preparation. The test your physician requests depends on what structures in the body he or she needs to see. For instance, a CT scan uses X-ray waves to create images and is ideal for getting a detailed look at the bones. MRI imaging uses magnetic fields and radio waves to scan the body and provides clear imaging of soft tissue and organs. The technician performing your test will explain what to expect and will answer any questions you may have.
3D mammography offers multiple benefits over traditional imaging tests that can translate into early breast cancer diagnoses. If you are in need of a mammogram, ask your physician to refer you to Concord Imaging Center in San Antonio so that you can receive a 3D mammogram for the most reliable imaging results.
One of the many advantages of 3D mammograms is their ability to detect abnormal tissue masses that may otherwise go unseen until they have gotten larger on 2D tests. Identifying these areas of tissue early means that treatments can begin sooner, which can be life-saving. 3D mammograms are also better at scanning dense breast tissue, which is a particular issue in young women. Dense tissue can obscure abnormal tissue, which could delay diagnosis. Women also get more peace of mind from 3D mammograms. Because the mammography images are clearer and more detailed with 3D imaging, it reduces the risk of false positives that can lead to unnecessary anxiety and medical testing for non-cancerous cases.
If you have been referred to an imaging center in San Antonio for testing, your radiologist will discuss the procedure with you and tell you how to prepare. It’s important for you to alert your radiologist to any conditions or concerns you may have that could interfere with the test. To make sure your medical imaging test is as safe and effective as possible, be sure to discuss these factors with your radiologist.
Your radiologist needs to know if you are pregnant or if you could be pregnant. Some imaging tests and some of the tracers used for imaging tests are not safe for a developing fetus. If you are pregnant, X-rays, CT scans, and nuclear medicine tests may not be safe. Ultrasounds and MRIs are generally considered to be acceptable during pregnancy, but your radiologist and doctor will work together to make the right decision for you.
Some medical imaging tests ask patients to stay in a certain position or enclosed area for an extended period of time. For some people, this can trigger symptoms of claustrophobia. If you are concerned about experiencing claustrophobia during your imaging test, then let your radiologist know. He or she can offer advice that could make you feel more confident about the test. Your doctor may also provide you with a sedative to make the test more comfortable.
Make your radiologist aware of any implanted devices you have, so that he or she can make the appropriate adjustment to your test. Joint replacement implants and breast implants can affect the appearance of your medical imaging test and may interfere with the ability to see certain parts of your anatomy. Some implanted devices, such as pacemakers, are not compatible with certain types of imaging tests, as the tests can disrupt the way the device works. Inform your radiologist about any implanted devices you have, even if they are not in the area of your body that is being scanned.
It’s common for a man’s prostate gland to enlarge as he grows older. This doesn’t always indicate prostate cancer. However, if a doctor determines that your prostate gland is enlarged, such as during a digital rectal exam, he or she may request further testing—just in case. You may be referred to an imaging center in San Antonio, where a radiology specialist can perform an ultrasound exam of your prostate gland.
How Ultrasound Exams Work
These imaging exams are safe and painless. Ultrasound exams use sound waves to create real-time images of the internal structures like the prostate. The sound waves are emitted by a handheld device, called a transducer. The transducer detects the sound waves as they bounce back, and then sends this information to a computer. Advanced software uses the information to generate images. For some exams, the radiology professional moves the transducer around on top of the skin, which is covered in gel. But for prostate exams, a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) is needed.
How You Should Prepare
The imaging center will give you any needed instructions to prepare for your appointment. If you take blood-thinning medications, you might be asked to temporarily discontinue them. If the radiologist needs to take a biopsy, discontinuing blood-thinners will prevent excessive bleeding. Since you’ll be having a transrectal ultrasound, you may be asked to use an enema about 2 to 4 hours prior to your appointment.
What You Can Expect
You’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown and lie on the exam table on your side, with your knees drawn up. After placing a disposable cover on the transducer, the radiologist adds lubrication and inserts it into the rectum. You may experience some discomfort, but the exam won’t be painful. The radiologist may insert a needle into your prostate gland under the guidance of the real-time ultrasound images to take a small sample of tissue for testing. A TRUS exam does not take very long, and you’ll be able to get back to your usual activities right away.
Concord Imaging in San Antonio performs 3D mammograms on women of varying ages. The age at which you’ll have your first mammogram depends on your doctor’s recommendations. Your doctor will consider the current guidelines and your individual risk factors, such as your age. Of course, if you or your doctor detect potential signs of breast cancer, such as a lump in your breast or underarm area, then you should visit the imaging center to have a diagnostic mammogram right away, regardless of your age.
Otherwise, the American Cancer Society recommends that women ages 45 to 54 receive a screening mammogram annually, but women ages 40 to 44 should have the option to get annual exams if they wish. At age 55, women may choose to have mammograms yearly or every 2 years. As long as women are in good overall health and are expected to live a decade or longer, they can continue receiving these screening tests. Your personalized screening recommendations, as designed by your doctor, may vary depending on whether you’re a cancer survivor, whether you have a family history of breast cancer, and whether you have certain lifestyle risk factors of breast cancer.
Computed tomography, or CT scans , use x-rays to develop highly detailed, cross-sectional images of the body. Compared to conventional x-rays, CT scans can depict soft tissues, bones, blood vessels, and organs with impressive clarity. Before you get a CT scan in San Antonio, call the imaging center and ask whether there is anything you should do to prepare for your appointment.
CT imaging is painless and safe.
CT scans, also called CAT scans, are non-invasive tests that don’t cause any pain. Some patients need to receive contrast material before the scan begins. If the contrast dye is given intravenously, you’ll feel a slight pinch when the needle is inserted. The discomfort is only temporary. Radiology specialists are committed to maintaining the highest standards of patient safety. There is always a slight risk associated with any type of radiation, but CT scans are widely considered safe. However, if you’re receiving contrast dye, the technologist will need to know about reactions to previous contrast dye injections, allergies to medications or shellfish, diabetes, or asthma, or conditions that affect the kidneys, heart, or thyroid.
It’s important to remain as still as possible.
Once the CT technologist positions you on the exam table, he or she will go into a separate room to begin the exam. At this point, you must remain as still as you can, since even slight movements can cause the images to be blurry. If the technologist needs to image your chest or abdomen, you’ll likely be asked to hold your breath for brief periods of time.
Special considerations apply to expecting and breastfeeding mothers.
Since CT scans use x-ray technology, it is not safe to have these exams during pregnancy. Instead, the doctor will likely request an ultrasound, which uses sound waves and doesn’t harm the unborn baby. Always let the staff know if you’re pregnant, or if there’s a possibility that you might be pregnant. If you’re breastfeeding, you can receive a CT scan. However, you’ll be unable to breastfeed for 24 hours afterward if you receive contrast dye material. You can pump and store extra breast milk in anticipation of this waiting period. To maintain your milk production, you can continue to pump breast milk during the 24-hour period. However, you’ll need to discard it instead of feeding it to your baby.
Imaging centers in San Antonio can perform PET scans to detect cancer, and monitor its progression or treatment. This medical imaging test can also allow doctors to monitor blood flow to the heart. When you watch this video, you’ll see a simple animation that explains the technology behind PET scans.
PET scans, or positron emission tomography tests, involve the introduction of radioactive tracers into the body. These tracers bind to certain sugars or proteins. The radioactive isotope produces positrons. As these positrons interact with electrons, both of these particles are destroyed and 2 photons are released. The PET scanner detects the photons and uses advanced software to create 3D images with this information.
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