A Patient’s Guide to Ultrasound Exams of the Prostate

Doctor Holding Blue Ribbon

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. prostate - cancer

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.

When Should I Get My First Mammogram?

Woman Getting Breast Screening

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.

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What Radiologists Want You to Know About CT Scans

Woman Undergoing Diagnostic Imaging

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 - Scan

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.

A Quick Look at PET Scans

PET Scans Video

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.