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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The terms “radiology technologists” and “ radiologists ” are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. If you visit an imaging center in San Antonio, you’ll likely meet a radiology technologist first. This person will get you ready for the exam ,adjust the equipment and perform most exams. Radiology technologists are also typically responsible for positioning patients and taking steps to minimize radiation exposure. Radiology technologists are required to complete certain educational and training requirements. They typically have an Associates degree.
Although radiology technologists perform important responsibilities within an imaging center, they cannot actually interpret or “read” the exam. This is the role of the radiologist. Radiologists are medical doctors who have completed four years of medical school after earning a college degree. They must also complete four years of radiology residency. All that education and training allows radiologists to safely and accurately interpret exams such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and nuclear medicine exams. Radiologists can alsoperform procedures such as biopsies and fluoroscopy exams like Upper GI series and barium enemas. . Since radiologists are medical doctors, they must maintain licensure in the state in which they practice.
Anxiety is common among children who need to have medical imaging near San Antonio. In some cases, it may be appropriate to give a child a mild sedative so he or she can stay calm and still for an MRI or nuclear medicine test. However, it is certainly preferable to help kids stay calm without the use of medications. If your child has an upcoming appointment at an imaging center , start preparing him or her in advance.
Understand your child’s fears.
Before you can help your child cope, try to figure out what might be causing anxiety. For infants and young children, exam-induced anxiety may be a form of separation anxiety. School-age children may be primarily worried that the test will hurt. Body-conscious teenagers might feel slightly embarrassed, concerned about their privacy, and nervous about pain. If your child is old enough, talk to him or her about these concerns. It might be best to ask indirectly. Instead of asking, “Are you nervous?” try saying something like, “I noticed you didn’t eat much this morning. Sometimes, I get butterflies in my stomach when I get nervous, too.” Kids are sometimes more willing to share their feelings when they aren’t asked direct questions.
Demonstrate how to be a good patient.
To help your young child conquer his or her fear of the unknown, ask the radiologist if you can pretend to have an exam before your child does. Demonstrate how you lie very still on the exam table. You might even lighten the mood for your child by pretending to snore loudly.
Use distraction techniques.
A child’s imagination can be a powerful tool. Collaborate with your child’s radiology technologist to distract your child with pretend play. For instance, as your child prepares for an MRI, you might say that the inside of the scanner is like a rocket ship. Tell your child that he or she must lie very still, just like an astronaut who is getting launched into space. For older children, headphones might serve as enough of a distraction.
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.
A DEXA scan is an advanced form of radiology that is used to detect bone loss and is the current standard when it comes to measuring bone mineral density. If you’re wondering if you could benefit from a DEXA scan in San Antonio , then you should know that several factors can make someone a good candidate for this type of bone density test.
Your physician may have you visit a radiologist for a DEXA scan if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your X-rays show a vertebral fracture, you’re a post-menopausal woman and not on estrogen therapy, or you’re a post-menopausal woman who weighs less than 125 pounds or is under 5’7” in height. Also, you may be a good candidate for this type of bone density test if you have a parathyroid or thyroid condition, high collagen levels in urine samples, type 1 diabetes, liver disease, or kidney disease. Finally, your doctor may order a DEXA scan if you have a medical condition known to cause bone loss or a history or family history of hip fractures or smoking.
Has your doctor asked you to visit a radiology center to get a CT angiogram? If so, then you may have questions about this procedure and what to expect. Continue reading to learn about this type of angiography before your CT scan in San Antonio .
What It Is
CT angiography makes use of the latest CT technology and involves taking images of the body. Combining thin section reconstruction with fast scanning, CT angiography can provide exceptional detail of organs and blood vessels. Some of the conditions that doctors use CT angiography to diagnose include coronary artery disease, renal artery stenosis, and thoracic aorta aneurysm.
What to Expect
During the procedure, you will be given an I.V. line, and contrast dye will be injected. This step will take about 10 to 30 seconds and may cause you to experience a funny taste in your mouth or a warm sensation. As the CT scan is performed, you will need to hold your breath for a short time.
How to Prepare
To get ready for your CT angiogram, you should not eat within 3 hours of your appointment at the imaging center. However, you should drink plenty of fluids, ideally water, while avoiding caffeinated beverages. Also, wear clothing that is comfortable and will allow easy access for the I.V. line. Before the scan, inform the nurse or radiologist of any allergies that you know of and do not hesitate to ask questions or express any concerns that you may have about the CT angiogram.
After Your Scan
Following your CT angiogram, you can resume your normal activities, eat normally, and should continue to drink plenty of fluids over the next 24 hours. If you experience any issues or have questions, then contact your physician or radiologist.
Interpreting the Results
A CT angiogram may include as many as thousands of axial slices, which are thin, individual CT scans. In combination with 3D imaging tools and other methods of analysis, these images are reviewed. After the information is analyzed, your referring physician should receive a report of any significant findings about a day after your scan.
For individuals diagnosed with cancer, visiting their imaging center in San Antonio for radiology tests like MRIs and ultrasounds can play an important role in their ongoing treatment and determining the cancer’s stage. Read on to learn the answers to common questions about cancer staging.
What is a cancer stage?
The stage of your cancer refers to the extent of its growth in your body, such as whether it has spread and the tumor’s size. A person’s cancer will always be referred to by the stage that it was at the time of diagnosis, even if it spreads or worsens. Although information regarding your cancer may change over time, its stage will not.
Why do physicians use cancer staging?
Knowing the stage of your cancer benefits your doctor in several ways. First, it can help her determine the best course of treatment for your situation. Also, knowing the stage of your cancer can alert your physician to how serious your condition is and help her estimate your chances of survival.
How is someone’s cancer stage determined?
If you have symptoms that suggest you might have cancer or received screening results indicating that you may have this condition, then your doctor will order any of several types of tests, such as X-rays, blood work, or MRIs. These tests can diagnose your cancer and allow your physician to determine its stage.
What is the cancer staging system?
There are quite a few staging systems used by doctors. Some of these systems are used for a broad range of cancers, and others are employed only for specific types of the disease.
What is the TNM cancer staging system?
The TNM system is the most widely used cancer staging system. The T in this system refers to the extent of the patient’s main tumor, which is commonly called the primary tumor. The N describes the number of lymph nodes near the primary tumor that have cancer. Finally, the M refers to whether the cancer has metastasized and to what extent.
Has your physician advised you to visit an imaging center for a mammogram in San Antonio ? If so, then you may have questions about this type of radiology testing. Watch this video to learn a bit about protecting your health with mammograms.
When to comes to detecting breast cancer, a person’s health history, family health history, and body type can be critical factors in determining at what age she should begin getting mammograms and how frequently. Mammograms can be very effective at diagnosing breast cancer, and it’s critical for women to speak with their health care providers and learn what is best for them at ages 30, 40, 50, and 60.
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