How Are Brain Tumors Diagnosed?

Brain Diagram

If your physician suspects you could have a brain tumor, getting an accurate diagnosis quickly is essential. Among the many tools your physician may use to make a diagnosis, you may be referred to a medical imaging clinic. At Concord Imaging Center in San Antonio , we offer patient-driven medical imaging at an affordable cost. Here is a closer look at some of the tests used to diagnose brain tumors. brain - tumors

Neurological Exam

During a neurological exam, a specialist will evaluate things like your vision, balance, hearing, coordination, and reflexes. If you demonstrate signs of diminished function, it could indicate that you have a brain tumor and in what region of the brain the tumor is located. Keep in mind that many conditions can cause these non-specific symptoms, so a neurological exam is not an adequate tool for making a definitive diagnosis. It is simply a piece of a diagnostic puzzle.

PET Scan

PET stands for positron emission tomography. PET scans require the use of a special trace dye that contains a small amount of radiation. As the dye is absorbed into your organs and tissues, it can help your radiologist pinpoint very small changes in cellular metabolism that could indicate the growth of abnormal tissue. PET scans are the only medical imaging tests that show changes on the cellular level, which means it is sensitive enough to detect cancer in very early stages. In addition to helping to diagnose brain tumors, PET scans can determine if the cancer has metastasized and may also be used to see if any treatments being used for tumors are effective.

CT Scans

Computerized tomography, or CT scans, use X-ray beams to provide more targeted and detailed images than conventional X-rays. During CT scans, your radiologist can look for abnormalities in organs, bones, blood vessels, and soft tissue. CT scans are often used in conjunction with PET scans to diagnose cancer, determine cancer staging, and track treatment progress.

Your Upcoming MRI Exam

MRI Exam Video

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is used to get detailed imaging of organs and tissue in your body for diagnostic purposes and to see how well a treatment is working. If you’re scheduled for an MRI, the team at your imaging center in San Antonio will be happy to answer all of your questions about what to expect. This video will also help.

During an MRI scan, you may need an injection of contrast dye to help make the images clearer. Other than a minor injection if necessary, MRIs are completely painless. During the test, you will lay on a table that moves inside a large, circular device that is used for taking images. You’ll need to lie still for the duration of the medical imaging test. If you are concerned about feeling claustrophobic, talk to the imaging center staff, who can give you tips on how to relax.

Is Diagnostic Imaging Safe for Children?

Child in Chair

Although medical imaging tests can be extremely useful for diagnostics, parents naturally have concerns about the impacts of imaging on their child’s health. If your child is scheduled for medical imaging in San Antonio , this information can help you make an informed decision about his or her health care needs.

The concern most parents have with medical imaging is the exposure to radiation. Radiation is used in X-rays, CT scans, and nuclear medicine procedures. Although excessive doses of radiation can cause cancer, the amount used in medical imaging is usually minute. Radiology specialists work diligently to limit the exposure to radiation for any patient, especially children, to the absolute minimum. If your child has been referred for medical imaging, it is because his or her doctor believes that the importance of the diagnostic test far outweighs any small amount of radiation risk. Ask the team at the imaging center to explain their safety protocols, so you can feel confident about following through the diagnostic test.

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Factors Involved with the Interpretation of Mammograms

Woman Getting Breast Exam

When you visit an imaging center for a mammogram , it’s natural to be anxious to get answers about your results. Radiologists strive to deliver medical imaging results quickly, but above all, accurately. The radiology specialists in San Antonio who read your mammogram will consider several factors about the image before providing results. Here are some of the things the radiologist reading your mammogram will consider. Keep in mind that having an abnormal result on your mammogram doesn’t mean you have cancer. It simply means that you may need further imaging, such as an ultrasound, or a biopsy. mammogram - imaging

Asymmetries

In most cases, the tissue in both of your breasts should appear the same on a mammogram. If your radiologist notices a mass, sac, or other area of tissue that looks different on one side than the other or that simply isn’t on the other side, then he or she may recommend further diagnostic testing. These kinds of asymmetries can refer to any difference between the breasts that is noted on the mammogram.

Skin Thickening

Skin thickening is a common symptom with breast cancer, particularly inflammatory breast cancer. During a mammogram, skin thickening may be noticed before you can see the telltale orange peel appearance on your skin. When thickening is detected on your mammogram, your radiologist or physician may recommend a biopsy or ultrasound for further testing.

Calcifications

Calcifications, or calcium deposits, are extremely common. Radiologists classify them as either macrocalcifications, which are large and look like dots on the imaging test, and microcalcifications, which are small and resemble white flecks. Generally, macrocalcifications are not considered to be a cause for concern. Microcalcifications may require further testing, especially when they appear in clusters. These kinds of calcifications can sometimes indicate that ductal carcinoma in situ, which is a non-invasive type of cancer. However, keep in mind that many women have microcalcifications clusters and do not have cancer.