X-rays are among the most well-known medical imaging exams. Other types of medical imaging exams use X-ray technology, such as CT scans, but standard bone X-rays most frequently come to mind when people hear this term. X-rays are often performed at hospitals, such as when a patient arrives at the ER with injuries, but some clinics lack on-site imaging capabilities and may refer their patients to an imaging center instead. A patient may also be referred to an imaging center near San Antonio for non-emergent X-rays .
X-rays can depict bones well, but not other structures.
X-rays are exceptionally accurate for depicting the details of the bone structure. However, they aren’t terribly useful for evaluating the soft tissues of the body, which include the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. This is why orthopedic specialists might request an MRI instead of a bone X-ray. An MRI allows a better examination of the various structures of the joints and spine. MRIs are also useful for detecting very tiny bone contusions that might not show up on X-rays.
Bone X-rays are helpful for more than diagnosing fractures.
Most people undergo multiple X-rays during the course of their lifetime. This technology is routinely used in dental offices, for instance, where it helps dentists find tooth decay. But in addition to its dental uses and its helpfulness in diagnosing bone fractures, X-rays are useful for other reasons. X-rays allow doctors to evaluate patients suspected of having arthritis, bone cancer, bone infections, and bone spurs. They are frequently used by orthopedic surgeons who are planning surgeries, such as spinal fusions and joint replacements.
X-rays are safe and painless.
Most medical procedures do carry certain risks, and X-rays are no exception. However, the risk associated with the radiation exposure is quite low, especially these days. That’s because state-of-the-art imaging centers use modern X-ray equipment that enables the radiologists to use the lowest possible dose of radiation for each X-ray. Furthermore, the part of the patient’s body that is not being examined is covered with a lead apron to shield against radiation. The risk is greater for women who are pregnant, which is why radiologists routinely ask female patients if they are pregnant or could be pregnant.
A computed tomography (CT) scan or CAT scan is just one of the sophisticated tests you’ll find at Concord Imaging in San Antonio. If you have safety concerns about radiology exams, please feel free to discuss these with your doctor or the radiology professional. During your CT scan, you’ll be exposed to low levels of radiation, as the CT scanner uses X-ray technology to create medical images. There is a risk of cancer caused by radiation and CT scans expose patients to higher levels of radiation compared to the typical dose of a chest X-ray. However, medical experts tend to agree that the risk of cancer caused by radiation is generally smaller than a person’s natural risk of cancer.
Some patients undergoing CT scans are asked to receive a contrast agent prior to the exam. The contrast agent helps to improve the clarity of the medical images. Rarely, some people may experience allergic reactions from this substance. Your doctor might recommend a different medical imaging test if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, due to the risk of radiation to the child.
Medical imaging tests are used to both diagnose heart disease and monitor its progression. Your cardiologist may recommend imaging tests to determine what part of your heart is damaged, to evaluate how well your current treatment plan is working, and to see if your condition is getting worse. There are a number of different imaging tests that can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, from X-rays to MRI scans in San Antonio . Here are some of the medical imaging exams you might undergo in your treatment for heart disease.
A chest X-ray is a painless test that uses a small amount of radiation to create an image of the organs and bones in your chest cavity, including your heart. Your doctor may order a chest X-ray if he or she suspects you have congenital heart disease, an enlarged heart, or blood vessel problems. A chest X-ray can also be used to identify calcium and plaque buildup in your blood vessels and heart that can increase your risk of having a heart attack. If you have a pacemaker or other heart device, then your doctor may also order an X-ray to make sure it is in the right place.
Cardiac CT Scan
A CT scan—or computed tomography—is used to create a 3D image of your heart. It is primarily used to find or monitor the presence of calcium deposits within plaque in the heart and arteries. It allows your doctor to diagnose atherosclerosis, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, before any symptoms begin, so that you can begin treatment early. CT scans can also be used to see if calcium deposits are increasing or if they are being adequately controlled by your current treatment plan. The test is painless, except for minor discomfort some patients experience when they receive an injection of contrast dye before the test.
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, tests use a magnetic field and radio waves to create a detailed image of the structures of the heart. They can be used to determine how well the different components of the heart are functioning and to monitor the progression of heart disease. They can also be used to see if the treatments being used for your heart disease are effective.
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.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a useful tool for diagnosing many different health problems, including tumors, infections, and internal injuries. Patients undergoing an MRI near San Antonio should contact the imaging center ahead of time to discuss their concerns if they have claustrophobia. The radiologist can coach you through every step of the exam to help you have a positive experience despite claustrophobia.
Consider Seeing a Therapist
A therapist cannot help you overcome claustrophobia overnight, but it can be helpful to speak with one before your appointment at the imaging center. A therapist can help you get to the root of your fears and give you some advice on coping with the enclosed space of the MRI machine.
Ask About Medications
Anti-anxiety medications might not be appropriate for every patient, but they might help those who suffer from physical symptoms like the symptoms of panic attacks. If your claustrophobia is severe and you’re concerned that you won’t be able to lie still throughout the exam, you might consider talking to your doctor about using an anti-anxiety medication. Before taking these medications, be sure to ask the doctor if you’ll need to have someone else drive you to and from the imaging center.
Learn About the Exam
Some people with claustrophobia find that becoming fully informed patients allows them to cope with MRI exams. Don’t be shy about asking the radiologist questions about the equipment or the procedure. Let the radiologist know what he or she can do to help you have a positive experience. For example, you might benefit from receiving estimates during the exam of how much longer it will take.
Listen to Music
Patients undergoing MRI scans can often listen to music. MRI machines are rather noisy, which can add to a person’s anxiety. Music will help block out the noise. Listening to relaxing music can even help ease muscle tension.
Distraction is often effective when dealing with claustrophobia during an MRI exam. While you’re lying on the table, you can mentally recite the verses of a favorite poem, compose a mental to-do list, or ponder what to make for dinner during the rest of the week. With the help of distraction, the exam will be over in no time.
MRI scans are not painful, but many patients still dread the thought of them. Because MRIs generally involve lying completely still on a table that slides into an imaging machine, patients can be overwhelmed by fears of claustrophobia. Fortunately, there are many steps anxious patients to calm their nerves when they are scheduled for an MRI scan in San Antonio . Follow this advice to make your MRI, or any medical imaging test, as comfortable as possible.
Tell the MRI Team
If you are nervous about your MRI, be sure the medical imaging team is aware of your fears. They can answer any questions you have and go slowly to be sure you are as comfortable as possible during each step of the scan. Any time you have a concern during the MRI, use the intercom to communicate with the technologist. Many people find that simply hearing someone’s voice and feeling that connection to someone outside of the machine makes them feel calm. Keep in mind that your technologist is there for your comfort and peace of mind. He or she will reposition you if you are uncomfortable, and if you simply can’t complete the test, the technician will gladly help you out of the machine.
Distraction can be a powerful tool when you’re fearful about your MRI. Many MRI operators offer headphones so you can listen to music during the test. Take advantage of the headphones to block the sound of the machine and to take your mind off the small space. Try to close your eyes and concentrate on the songs instead of the test to get your mind off your fear.
Be Kind to Yourself
Many people are fearful of MRI tests, so if you are feeling anxious, you’re not alone. Don’t compound your stress by trying to ignore your feelings or berating yourself for your anxieties. Ask for as much help you as you need and go as slowly as you need to avoid introducing unnecessary stress for yourself into the process.
The owner of our center for medical imaging near San Antonio, Dr. Jeremy N. Wiersig, emphasizes the importance of using a personalized, patient-centered approach to care. At Concord Imaging, the exceptional service provided by Dr. Wiersig and his colleagues reflects the genuine empathy the radiology team has with patients.
Dr. Wiersig graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. He subsequently attended The University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. His commitment to academic excellence earned him admittance to the Honor Medical Society of Alpha Omega Alpha. Following graduation, Dr. Wiersig completed his four-year residency in Diagnostic Radiology. After his residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Dr. Wiersig went to The University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he completed his Fellowship in Body Imaging. Dr. Wiersig’s dedication to providing exceptional care to patients undergoing an MRI, CT scan, or other medical images earned him the honor of being named as one of the top physicians by Scene in S.A . magazine.
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Concord Imaging, a center for medical imaging in San Antonio, owes its success in this community to the dedication of our radiology professionals in providing compassionate care to our patients. We continually strive to provide exemplary service to facilitate strong relationships with patients and physicians. Dr. Jennifer Harper is one of our physicians who embody those values. Dr. Harper specializes in medical images that serve the needs of women in our community, such as 3D mammography. She is also highly skilled in cross-sectional medical imaging.
Before Dr. Harper joined our team at Concord Imaging in 2009, she earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas, after which she traveled to Germany for postgraduate work as a Fulbright Scholar. After earning her medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dr. Harper completed her Diagnostic Radiology residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Later, she obtained board certification in Radiology and underwent fellowship training in mammography.
When you need medical imaging tests, you have a choice of where to get your procedure done. At Concord Imaging , we offer our patients benefits many other facilities simply don’t. Whether you need an MRI, CT, or PET scan near San Antonio, there are several advantages of choosing us for your care.
At Concord Imaging, our team is invested in ensuring that all of our patients have a comfortable experience. We’re always willing to answer questions and put you at ease for your testing. We maintain close contacts with our patients and the doctors who refer them to us for the best possible continuity of care. Our practice has the very latest in imaging technology, so you get reliable results when you need them the most. We’re also priced well below our competitors for everything from ultrasound imaging to MRI exams, which is especially helpful for patients with high deductibles. Get the quality care you need at a cost-effective price by making us your choice for medical imaging.
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