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.
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 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.
Radiopharmaceuticals are oral or injectable forms of radiation that are sometimes used during medical imaging tests. If you are referred for a PET scan in San Antonio , a radiopharmaceutical will be administered before your test. The dose of radiation is low and is safe for most people. Before your test, your doctor will weigh the risk of the test versus the benefits of having it, so you can feel confident that taking the radiopharmaceutical is worthwhile. Here are the facts you need to know about the use of radiopharmaceuticals during medical imaging.
Radiopharmaceuticals leave your body quickly.
During a PET scan, you will take a form of radiopharmaceutical called FDG. FDG is a form of glucose that is radioactive. It is highly controlled and tested for safety and has a half-life of about 110 minutes. As a result, the body expels it quickly. The majority of the FDG completely decomposes in the body, and the rest is removed through urine. Unlike some forms of radioactive medicine, there is no need to be sequestered from your family to protect them from radiation. Approximately 90% of the FDG will be gone from your body before you leave the testing center.
The radiopharmaceutical is absorbed by the organ being tested.
During a PET scan, the radiopharmaceutical that is administered is absorbed by the organ your doctor wants to examine. This makes the organ easier to see and helps to highlight any abnormalities. If you have cancer, using a radiopharmaceutical also allows your doctor to see if a tumor is active, rather than just seeing the structure of it, as you can on other imaging tests.
Some patients cannot use radiopharmaceuticals.
In some cases, allergies prevent patients from being able to use radiopharmaceuticals. You may also not be able to use them during breastfeeding or if you are on medications that could trigger a dangerous interaction. Typically, radiopharmaceuticals are safe during pregnancy, but your doctor will make the decision based on your specific health needs.
If you are referred to an imaging center in San Antonio , then you may need contrast materials for your test. Contrast material—sometimes referred to as contrast agents—is used during some X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds. Here are the answers to some of the questions patients frequently have about contrast materials.
How do contrast materials work?
Contrast materials change the way tissue or other structures in the body appear during an imaging test, so that they are easier for the radiologist to view. The way the contrast interacts with the subject of the imaging test helps to highlight abnormalities so that your doctor can diagnose a medical condition or can track the effectiveness of treatment you are already receiving. Contrast materials can be taken orally, intravenously, or rectally. The test you are having will determine the way the contrast is administered.
Do contrast materials cause side effects?
For most people, contrast materials are safe and cause few side effects. In some cases, patients have an allergy to a substance used in the contrast and may experience a reaction. At the imaging center, you will be asked questions about your allergies to try to avoid this kind of interaction. Some patients experience minor nausea after using contrast materials, but any side effects are typically short-lived and mild.
How should I prepare for taking contrast material?
The kind of preparation that is necessary for your imaging test and contrast material depends on the test you are having. In some instances, no preparation is necessary at all. In other instances, you may be asked to avoid eating and drinking for a certain period of time, or, in the case of contrast material that is used rectally, to perform an enema before your test. Your doctor or the staff at the imaging center will give you specific preparation instructions before your test. Be sure to follow them closely to avoid the need to reschedule your test.
A PET/CT scan is a combined test that involves a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and a computed tomography (CT) scan. A PET scan is a nuclear medicine test, which means it uses radioactive tracers. A CT scan uses X-rays to produce internal images of the body. If you have any questions or concerns about undergoing a PET/CT scan, a radiology specialist at Concord Imaging Center in San Antonio will be happy to discuss them with you.
Reasons for PET/CT Scans
Combined PET and CT scans are helpful for diagnosing a variety of medical problems, including cancer. This exam can aid in the initial diagnosis of cancer and in staging cancer, which refers to determining whether the cancer has spread. PET/CT scans can also help doctors evaluate how well cancer treatments are working and whether cancer has returned after treatment. Another common reason for undergoing a PET/CT scan is to evaluate the functioning of the heart. It may be used for assessing the damage inflicted by a heart attack and for planning cardiac surgeries.
Preparations for PET/CT Scans
The imaging center will give you directions to follow ahead of your appointment. You may be asked to avoid eating anything and drinking anything that contains calories for a few hours before the appointment. You can drink plain water. If you’re a diabetic, the radiologist may give you different instructions. Your radiologist will need to know if any of the following applies to you:
- You are pregnant or might be pregnant.
- You are breastfeeding.
- You have removable dental work or hearing aids.
- You’re taking any medications or supplements.
- You have any allergies, particularly to seafood, iodine, and contrast materials.
Steps of PET/CT Scans
When you arrive at the imaging center, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown before lying on an exam table. You’ll receive the radioactive tracer, which may be inhaled, swallowed, or given intravenously. It will take the tracer a while to travel around your body. You’ll be asked to lie quietly during this time. Then, you’ll be positioned in the scanner, where you’ll also need to remain still. It generally takes about 30 minutes to perform a PET and CT 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.
Medical imaging is an incredibly valuable tool that physicians can use to diagnose and monitor diseases. Nuclear medicine , a form of imaging, gives doctors a real-time look at how various organs are working. If your physician refers you for nuclear medicine in San Antonio, watch this video to learn about the value of this form of medical imaging.
Nuclear medicine gives physicians a view of how various organs process normal substances and indicates areas of abnormal functioning. Through nuclear medicine imaging, your physician can diagnose a range of conditions, including many types of cancer, and evaluate the effectiveness of any treatment you are currently undergoing. This information helps him or her make an informed decision about your treatment plan to give you the best possible care.
If you’ve been referred to an imaging center in San Antonio to have a thyroid uptake and scan, your doctor might suspect that you have an overactive thyroid, thyroid cancer, or other abnormalities of the thyroid gland. This test is a type of nuclear medicine , which means it relies on the introduction of a radioactive material into the body. Nuclear medicine imaging scans tend to require more preparation than other types of radiology exams.
Before the Scan
You may need to have blood tests performed in the days leading up to your appointment at the imaging center. These tests will measure the level of thyroid hormone in your body. You might be asked to refrain from eating for several hours prior to having the scan. If you have diabetes, be sure to ask if these instructions need to be modified. It’s advisable to leave metallic accessories such as jewelry at home on the day of your appointment. These items can interfere with the test. You should also inform the technologist of your medical history, especially whether you are pregnant, could be pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Let the provider know if you’ve had another test with contrast material performed recently, have any allergies, or are taking medications or supplements. Make a note of any substances you consume that contain iodine, such as kelp, seaweed, multivitamins, or cough syrup.
During the Exam
To perform a thyroid scan, the radiologist will first inject the radiotracer and then position you on the exam table. A gamma camera will take images of your thyroid gland from multiple angles. It’s important to hold still during this time. For a thyroid uptake, you’ll be asked to swallow radioactive iodine in a capsule or a liquid. This substance may be ingested several hours to 24 hours before the test. For this test, you’ll sit comfortably in a chair as the probe is positioned over your neck to take the images. Some patients may be asked to return to the imaging center at intervals of four, six, and 24 hours after ingesting the radiotracer.
After the Appointment
Most patients can resume their normal activities immediately. It’s important to follow any additional instructions your provider might give you. Drink plenty of water during the rest of the day to help flush the radiotracer out of your body.
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.
After being diagnosed with cancer, being aware of your treatment and testing options can be crucial for making informed decisions. For this reason, it can be valuable for you to know the role that your imaging center in San Antonio will play during your cancer treatment. Here, you’ll find information regarding the ways in which imaging might be used for diagnosing, treating, and screening for cancer.
Diagnosing Your Cancer
In many cancer cases, a patient first visits their doctor because of their symptoms, and they are then referred to a medical imaging center. Imaging can be done using a wide range of tools, and the results of these scans and tests give doctors a look at what is affecting a patient’s body, improving their ability to diagnose the problem and develop a treatment plan. Although imaging might play an important part through the whole of your recovery, it can be the most critical during the diagnosis stage.
Evaluating Your Treatment
Throughout this process, your doctor may incorporate additional scanning into your treatment to monitor the cancer and determine how successfully it is being handled. The results of these tests may or may not influence how your doctor proceeds with your treatment. You can anticipate visiting your imaging center several times as you work towards being free of cancer. Some examples of the imaging tools that this may involve are X-rays, PET scans, MRIs, ultrasound, and CT scans.
Screening for Recurrence
Once your treatment is complete and no further signs of cancer are detected, your doctor will explain to you the importance of remaining vigilant. From this point forward, it will be vital for you to watch for any symptoms of returning cancer, and to speak with your doctor and schedule screening tests for relapse as needed. Ongoing attentiveness and getting medical imaging as directed by your doctor will be an essential part of catching cancer early in the case of a recurrence.
- CT Scan
- Concord Imaging Review
- DEXA Scan
- PET Scan
- Nuclear Medicine
- 3D Mammogram
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Imaging Costs
- Healthcare Cost
- Concord Imaging
- Imaging center
- Joint Injections
- Medical Imaging
- chronic lung conditions
- Diagnostic Imaging
- Nuclear Medical Testing
- Radiology center