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.
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 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, 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.
When it’s time to make an appointment at an imaging center for a mammogram, consider asking whether you would benefit from 3D mammography. Radiologists in San Antonio strongly recommend 3D mammograms because they offer significant advantages over traditional mammograms . These advantages can help save lives.
When you watch this featured video, you’ll meet Lori, who went to an imaging center for a routine mammogram and got a call back. She had an MRI and ultrasound, which were both inconclusive. Then, she got a 3D mammogram and the radiologist was able to detect the tumor. Her doctor explains that 3D mammograms increase cancer detection rates dramatically, plus, they result in fewer call backs because of false positives. Lori, who is now in remission, credits the technology with saving her life.
Patients who have never had an ultrasound in San Antonio might have some questions about what they can expect. Your best sources of information are your doctor and radiology provider. You should feel free to voice your concerns or ask any questions you may have about the ultrasound exam when you arrive at the imaging center.
Does ultrasound technology emit radiation?
Several medical imaging tests use ionizing radiation in the form of X-rays, but ultrasound is not one of them. Instead, the equipment uses high-frequency sound waves to produce detailed, real-time images .
I’m claustrophobic. Will I have problems getting an ultrasound?
No, an ultrasound doesn’t require you to lie on an exam table that is inserted into the scanner. Instead, you’ll be positioned comfortably on the padded table and the radiologist or sonographer will apply a water-based gel to the skin over the area that is to be examined. A hand-held device, known as a transducer, is positioned on the skin and moved around until the desired images are obtained.
Is prenatal testing the only use for ultrasound?
Ultrasound imaging plays an important role in prenatal care, since it allows providers to check on the development of the baby. An ultrasound can also be used to determine whether the baby is male or female. However, there are many other uses for ultrasound imaging. Ultrasound can be used to look for signs of breast cancer and to guide breast biopsies. It’s useful for evaluating heart conditions, including heart valve problems, congestive heart failure, and post-heart attack damage. Ultrasound images even allow for the detection of blood clots and blood vessel narrowing.
How should I prepare for my appointment?
For all medical imaging appointments, it’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothing and leave jewelry at home. Some patients may be asked to avoid eating and drinking for a period of time prior to the exam. Other patients may need to have a full bladder for the test, which requires them to drink lots of water and avoid urinating.
Is an ultrasound exam painful?
Ultrasound exams are painless. Most patients experience no discomfort at all, although you may be slightly uncomfortable if you need to have a full bladder for the test. Minimal discomfort may occur if the transducer must be inserted into an opening in the body.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition for which there is no cure, but early detection and treatment can greatly slow the development of the disease. In the past, diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease early has been difficult, but PET scan s are changing that. Thanks to this kind of medical imaging in San Antonio, early Alzheimer’s diagnosis is possible, which gives patients and their families more time to enjoy life without symptoms and to plan for future care needs.
PET scans are helpful in early Alzheimer’s diagnoses because they allow a radiologist to detect minute changes in the brain’s chemistry that are associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. By recognizing these changes, your doctor can begin treatments, often when symptoms are very minimal. Although the treatments cannot cure Alzheimer’s or ultimately stop it from worsening, early intervention can dramatically slow the progression of cognitive decline.
Gallbladder disease can be difficult to diagnose without imaging tests. If your doctor suspects that you could have a problem with your gallbladder, he or she may refer you to an imaging center in San Antonio to examine your gallbladder and determine if there are signs of inflammation or infection. Here is what you need to know.
Gallbladder disease may be symptomless.
In many instances, gallbladder disease may not cause any symptoms, so you may have gallstones or another issue without ever being diagnosed. However, some people do experience symptoms, including abdominal pain, especially in the upper right side of the abdomen, and pain that appears after you eat. Some people also experience nausea, vomiting, heartburn, indigestion, and excessive gas. If an infection is present, a fever may also occur. If you have these symptoms and your doctor cannot pinpoint another cause, he or she may refer you to an imaging center for diagnostic testing.
Medical imaging tests are necessary to make a diagnosis.
Medical imaging tests are extremely useful in diagnosing gallbladder disease. In some cases, it may be necessary to use more than one kind of imaging to make a definitive diagnosis. An ultrasound is helpful in finding small gallstones but cannot capture other kinds of inflammation. X-rays are good for finding gallstones that contain calcium. A CT scan can identify inflammation, tears, and ruptures as well as gallstones. An MRI can find abnormalities in the gallbladder, including cancer, but cannot spot small gallstones. If one kind of imaging test is not successful in diagnosing a problem, then your doctor may refer you for a different type of test.
Additional testing is sometimes required.
In some cases, your doctor may also perform lab work, such as blood tests and urine tests, to look for elevated levels of enzymes and other abnormalities that can suggest a gallbladder problem. These tests may be used in addition to medical imaging to develop a complete picture of the type of gallbladder disease.
Doctors recommend that most women begin having mammograms annually when they turn 40 and earlier or more often if they have certain risk factors. If your doctor refers you to an imaging center in San Antonio for your first mammogram, it is natural to have some nervousness about what to expect. Fortunately, most women find mammograms much easier than they have imaged them. If you are feeling nervous about your mammogram, here are some ways to cope with your anxiousness.
Sometimes, knowledge is the best way to overcome nervousness. When your doctor refers you for your mammogram, ask him or her to explain what to expect. The staff at your imaging center can also explain the process to you. By going into the mammogram with an understanding of the process, you can feel more confident about your appointment. If your anxiety revolves around the test results and the prospect of finding out that you have breast cancer or another health issue, ask your doctor to tell you exactly when you can expect to hear from him or her.
Talk to Your Friends
Sometimes, there is nothing as comforting as hearing someone you trust explain her own mammogram experiences to you. Most women have anxiety about getting their first mammograms and then discover that the test is fast and easy and only causes a small amount of discomfort if it causes any at all. You can even ask a friend to go with you to help keep your nerves under control.
Tell the Imaging Center Staff
It can be helpful to tell the imaging center staff that it is your first mammogram and that you are nervous about the experience. They will be more than willing to explain the entire process to you and to go slowly, telling you want to expect at each stage. You may be surprised how quickly the test is over when you feel comfortable and let go of your nervousness about the procedure.
The gallbladder is a small sac that stores bile, which the digestive system uses to break down fats. The gallbladder can be affected by various medical problems. Some of the most common are gallstones and inflammation. When patients experience possible symptoms of gallbladder problems, such as severe upper abdominal pain, they may be referred to an imaging center in San Antonio for diagnostic testing. The radiology specialist might perform more than one diagnostic imaging test for the doctor to review.
Patients may be asked to have an abdominal X-ray if the doctor suspects that gallstones may be causing the symptoms. X-rays use a small amount of radiation to produce images of the internal structures. In some cases, the radiology specialist may introduce a contrast dye into the patient’s body to produce clearer images. Unfortunately, X-rays cannot assist with the diagnosis of all types of gallstones—only those that contain calcium. Calcium-containing gallstones are black pigment stones and brown pigment stones, which may be found in the gallbladder and the bile duct, respectively.
Due to the limitations of X-rays in diagnosing gallstones, patients are more likely asked to have an ultrasound exam. Unfortunately, this exam also has its limitations; it isn’t as able to clearly detect gallbladder inflammation. To perform an ultrasound, the technologist will ask the patient to lie on an exam table. A water-based gel is applied to the skin over the area of the body that needs to be examined. A transducer, which is a handheld device, is passed over the skin. The transducer emits sound waves into the body. As the sound waves bounce back, they are analyzed and used to produce real-time images.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
This imaging scan can be helpful in diagnosing gallstones in the bile duct, particularly large gallstones. Patients might also have an MRI if they are suspected of having biliary tract cancer. MRIs do not use radiation. Instead, this exam uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to create clear medical images. Since patients will lie within the magnetic field during the exam, it’s imperative that they inform the technologist if they have any metal objects in their bodies. These might include pacemakers, shrapnel, surgical screws, and implants.
If you’re expecting to have a CT scan in San Antonio, it can be helpful to understand what to expect at the imaging center. Computed tomography (CT) scans, also called CAT scans, use information gleaned from emitting X-rays through a patient to produce cross-sectional images of the internal structures of the body. A CT scan is commonly used to diagnose lymphoma, pancreatitis, appendicitis, colon cancer, and many other medical conditions.
You can learn more about CT scans by watching this video or speaking with your doctor. This brief animation explains how you’ll lie on a special sliding table that is inserted into the machine. When the table stops moving, the scanner moves around your body and emits X-rays. A computer analyzes the information to produce an image.
A radiology specialist can perform nuclear medicine procedures in San Antonio to produce medical images that facilitate the diagnosis of diseases and conditions . The radiology specialist gives the patient a radioactive substance either intravenously or orally. Some patients may be concerned that nuclear medicine procedures can be painful or harmful. You can discuss your concerns with your doctor or radiologist ahead of time.
Patients undergoing these exams are not exposed to more radiation than is emitted during a typical X-ray. Although there is still some risk with any amount of radiation, this risk is minimal for these procedures. Nuclear medicine procedures are not painful. If the substance is administered intravenously, then the patient will feel a pinprick when the needle is inserted through the skin. A cold sensation may be felt, but this is not painful. Some discomfort may be experienced if a catheter needs to be inserted into the bladder, but this is not required for most nuclear medicine procedures.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scans are a type of exam that a radiology specialist can perform. Most imaging scans performed at imaging centers in San Antonio produce images of the internal structures. PET scans are different because they can reveal how well organs and tissues are working. Thanks to this innovative technology, a radiologist is able assess abnormal masses, analyze brain function, check blood flow to the heart, and stage cancer.
How do PET scans work?
PET scans require the radiology specialist to inject the patient with radioactive glucose . The radioactive tracer collects in various areas of the body and produces emissions that are detectable with a special imaging device. In some cases, patients may undergo a combined PET/CT or PET/MRI exam, which allows the information from the two different exams to be combined. This can facilitate greater accuracy with image interpretation.
Are they painful or harmful?
When patients learn that they will be injected with a radioactive substance, they often become alarmed at the potential risks of radioactivity. But there is nothing to be concerned about. The amount of radiation is trivial and the risk is minimal. The substance has a very short half-life and it leaves the body in just a few hours. The only discomfort patients experience is the pinprick sensation when the radioactive substance is injected. This feels no different than a normal injection. PET scans are not associated with any known side effects.
How should patients prepare for a PET scan?
Before a patient receives a PET scan, he or she must inform the provider at the imaging center about recent illnesses, other medical conditions, and medications. Women should inform the radiologist if they are pregnant, could be pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Patients are usually asked to refrain from eating for four to six hours before the appointment. Water can usually be consumed as usual.
When will I get my results?
This depends on the imaging center, but patients usually get results in 24 to 48 hours. Patients can contact their physicians to discuss the results.
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