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Diagnostic Imaging Resources

3-Dimensional Tomosynthesis Mammography

A digital mammogram is a low dose X-ray of the breast. It is used to obtain accurate images of any abnormalities in the breasts. This can significantly improve the early detection of cancer and provide a much better treatment outcome. 

For a mammogram, the breast is compressed between two plates to flatten and spread the tissue. This may be uncomfortable for a moment, but it is necessary to produce a good, readable mammogram. The compression lasts only a few seconds. The entire procedure for a screening mammogram takes about 20 minutes.

The procedure produces a black and white image of the breast tissue either on a large sheet of film or as a digital computer image that is “read,” or interpreted, by a radiologist. Mammograms usually fall into two categories:

    Screening Mammogram

    • Images of the breasts that are used for women who have no breast symptoms or concerns

    Diagnostic Mammogram

    • A woman with a breast symptom (for instance, a lump or nipple discharge) or an abnormal area found in a screening typically gets a diagnostic mammogram.

3-D or 3-Dimensional mammography, is the next generation of technology for detecting breast cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage. This type of mammography is used in combination with conventional 2-D mammography.

The 3-D technology (also called tomosynthesis) is helpful for women who are at high risk for breast cancer or those who have a family history of breast cancer. It is also beneficial for patients who have dense breast tissue or for women who are ages 40 to 60. The 3-D supplemental screening is also suggested for a person’s baseline mammogram (the first one that doctors will use to compare later changes).

Some insurers will pay for 3-D mammography, some will pay only in certain situations, and some will not pay at all. Please check with your health insurance plan before your mammogram, to make sure you understand your payment responsibilities.

Patients Can Expect:

  • Acceptance of most medical insurance plans
  • Same, or next-day biopsy services
  • Test results interpreted by board-certified radiologists
  • Minimal wait times for scheduled appointments

What to Bring:

  • Prescription or referral form from a physician
  • Current medical insurance card
  • Driver’s license or other government-issued identification
  • Wear comfortable clothing (a skirt or pants to make it easier to remove only your top for the exam).
  • On the day of the exam, don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant, since they can interfere with the reading of the mammogram.

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Bone Density

A bone density test (also known as bone mass measurement), measures the strength and density of the bones. The measurements are used to determine decreased bone mass, which causes the bones to be more brittle and more prone to break or fracture easily.

Bone density testing can help to detect low bone density before a fracture occurs and they can confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis if you have already fractured a bone. Osteoporosis is the decrease of bone mass and density due to the depletion of calcium and protein in the bones.

The testing may be done using X-rays or by CT scanning using special software to determine bone density of the hip or spine. The procedure is usually done in a clinic, hospital or radiology facility, but portable types of testing can also be done.

About the procedure: The patient is positioned on an X-ray table, lying flat. Under the table, a photon generator will pass slowly beneath the patient, while an X-ray detector camera passes above the table, parallel to the photon generator beneath, projecting images of the lumbar and hip bones onto a computer monitor. The procedure will be repeated to obtain images of other bone areas. The computer will calculate the amount of photons that are not absorbed by the bones to determine the mineral content of the bones. The radiologist will then calculate the bone mineral density.

Patients can expect:

  • Bone density tests are painless, noninvasive and safe. There may be some discomfort during manipulation of the body, especially if a patient has a recent injury.
  • Generally, no prior preparation is needed, but patients may be asked to stop taking calcium supplements 24 to 48 hours prior to the test.
  • Because radiation is involved, it should not be performed if the patient is pregnant.

What to Bring

  • Physician referral form
  • Current medical insurance card
  • Driver's license or other government-issued identification
  • Wear comfortable clothing. (Avoid metal straps, buttons, zippers)

What is a bone densitometry exam?

Bone densitometry scanning, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) or simply a "bone density scan," is an enhanced form of x-ray technology that is used to measure bone loss. DEXA is today's established standard for measuring bone mineral densitometry.

An x-ray (radiograph) is a painless medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Radiography involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.

Bone densitometry is most often performed on the lower spine and hips.

Common Uses

Bone densitometry is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that most often affects women after menopause. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, causing the bones to become thinner, more fragile, and more likely to break.

The exam is effective in tracking the effects of treatment for osteoporosis and other conditions that cause bone loss. The test can also assess an individual's risk for developing fractures.

Bone densitometry testing is strongly recommended if you:

  • Are a post-menopausal woman and not taking estrogen.
  • Have a personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking.
  • Are a post-menopausal woman who is tall (over 5 feet 7 inches) or thin (less than 125 pounds).
  • Are a man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss.
  • Use medications that are known to cause bone loss, including corticosteroids such as Prednisone, various anti-seizure medications such as Dilantin and certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs.
  • Have type 1 (formerly called juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, or a family history of osteoporosis.
  • Have high bone turnover, which shows up in the form of excessive collagen in urine samples.
  • Have a thyroid condition, such as hyperthyroidism.
  • Have a parathyroid condition, such as hyperparathyroidism.
  • Have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma.
  • Have had x-ray evidence of vertebral fracture or other signs of osteoporosis.

The Lateral Vertebral Assessment, a low-dose x-ray examination of the spine to screen for vertebral fractures that is performed on the DEXA machine, may be recommended for older patients, especially if you:

  • Have lost more than an inch of height.
  • Have unexplained back pain.
  • Have had a bone densitometry scan that gave borderline readings.


Special care is taken during x-ray examinations to use the lowest radiation dose possible while producing the best images for evaluation. National and international radiology protection councils continually review and update the technique standards used by radiology professionals.

State-of-the-art x-ray systems have tightly controlled x-ray beams with significant filtration and dose control methods to minimize stray or scatter radiation. This ensures those parts of a patient's body not being imaged receive minimal radiation exposure.

What to Expect BEFORE your Bone Densitometry Exam

  • Food and drink: On the day of your bone densitometry scan you may eat normally. You should not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam. 

  • When to arrive: Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to check in and fill out any necessary forms. 

  • What to wear: You should wear loose, comfortable clothing, avoiding garments that have zippers, belts, or buttons made of metal. You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses, and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images. 

  • Other information: Inform your physician if you recently had a barium examination or have been injected with a contrast material for a computed tomography (CT) scan or radioisotope scan. You may have to wait 10 to 14 days before undergoing a DEXA test.

Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy because radiation can be harmful to the fetus. If an x-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimize radiation exposure to the baby.

What to Expect DURING your Bone Densitometry Exam

  • Scanning: Bone densitometry scans are a quick and painless procedure, and usually done on an outpatient basis. You will lie on a padded table. An x-ray generator will be located below you and an imaging device, or detector, will be positioned above.

    To assess your spine, your legs will be supported on a padded box to flatten the pelvis and lower (lumbar) spine. To assess the hip, your foot will be placed in a brace that rotates the hip inward. In both cases, the detector will slowly pass over the area, generating images on a computer monitor. You must hold very still and may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the picture is taken to reduce the possibility of a blurred image.

  • Length of scan: The scan is usually completed within 20 to 30 minutes.

What to Expect AFTER your Bone Densitometry Exam

  • Instructions: You may resume normal activity immediately after your bone densitometry scan. 

  • Exam results: All bone densitometry exams are interpreted by a radiologist. Under normal circumstances the reports are available electronically to the ordering physician 24-48 hours. Your referring physician will communicate these results to you.

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Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiologists are medical doctors with additional specialized training after medical school. Interventional radiology is a fast-growing medical specialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The American Board of Radiology administers board certification in Vascular and Interventional Radiology as well as Diagnostic Radiology.

Using real-time images from X-ray, CT, ultrasound or MRI, interventional radiologists guide needles, catheters and other small instruments through tiny incisions to diagnose and treat a wide variety of medical conditions.

Disease and Conditions:

Interventional radiology procedures are performed for a wide variety of diseases and medical conditions, including:

  • Carotid artery disease
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Liver and portal hypertension
  • Infertility (male or female)
  • Pelvic pain
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Renal artery disease and hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Thrombosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Varicose veins
  • Cancer treatments (breast, bone, kidney, liver and lung)

Minimally Invasive Treatments:

Interventional radiologists perform minimally invasive, targeted treatments, including:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair
  • Angioplasty and vascular stenting
  • Carotid angioplasty with stenting
  • Central venous access catheters and gastronomy (feeding) tubes
  • Chemoembolization
  • Endovenous ablation of varicose veins
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS)
  • Uterine artery embolization

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Imaging Services - MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

We provide MRI services in a comfortable and caring environment using the latest technology.  Every scan is interpreted by a specially trained radiologist. We use a state-of-the-art MRI scanner to take pictures with high resolution. These images give your physician important information in diagnosing your medical condition and planning a course of treatment.

MRI Overview:

  • An MRI utilizes a strong magnetic field and radio waves. The atoms in your body respond to this energy in a certain way. The MRI detects this response and uses it to construct detailed images.
  • MRI does not use x-ray radiation.
  • MRI excels at imaging soft tissue; it is used to look at internal organs, the brain and spinal cord, and breasts.
  • Exams last typically 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Some exams involve contrast, an injection that makes the images more vivid and informative.
  • Because of the strong magnetic field, metallic objects are not permitted in the scan room.
  • The technologist performing your exam will be nearby and able to talk to you throughout the scan.
  • MRI exams require that you lie still in a confined space. This isn't a problem for most people, but talk to your physician if you are concerned. Your physician may prescribe a sedative (we cannot provide such medication).

What is an MRI Exam?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a valuable, painless, diagnostic test that allows radiologists to visualize areas of the body that cannot be seen using conventional x-rays. MRI produces a series of cross-sectional pictures. Using MRI, physicians can now detect many conditions in earlier stages, greatly optimizing patient outcomes.

Common Uses:

Common uses for MR imaging include:  

  • head/brain
  • spine
  • joints
  • liver
  • pancreas
  • biliary tract
  • breast
  • pelvic organs
  • vascular system 


Safety is the number one concern for our patients and our staff.  MRI scanners do not use x-rays. Instead, a very strong magnet and radio frequency waves are used to obtain MRI images. Because of this, precautions are taken as to what objects enter the scan room. If a metallic object is brought too close to the scanner, it could become a projectile and potentially harm anyone between the object and the magnetic field.  A screening form is reviewed with each patient to ensure that no incompatible devices are brought into the scan room. A final check list is noted to verify that patients have removed all external metallic and electronic objects and devices.


Please let your physician and/or the MRI technologist know if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant. Your referring physician will need to consult with a radiologist to determine if MRI is the appropriate study to be done at this time. Although MRI does not use any ionizing radiation, caution is always taken in the use of MRI on pregnant patients.

Breast Feeding:

When scheduling your MRI, please notify the scheduler if you are breast feeding. In the event you should receive MRI contrast, you will be instructed to pump and discard your breast milk until the contrast has cleared from your system. This typically takes 24 hours.


Claustrophobia is the fear of being in closed or narrow spaces. This can be a problem for some individuals and should be discussed with your physician. Your physician may prescribe an oral sedative prior to your MRI if needed (we do not provide these medications).

Contrast Agents:

A gadolinium-based contrast agent is sometimes used for MRI exams. These contrast agents have a very safe track record. However, adverse drug reactions may occur. Gadolinium-based contrast agents can increase the risk for Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis in patients with impaired kidney function. Patients with acute kidney injury and those with chronic and/or severe kidney disease are at the highest risk. If you are over 60 and have a history of diabetes, hypertension, or any renal impairment, blood tests may be necessary to check your kidney function. An intravenous injection is the most common route of administration for MRI contrast. With certain exams (i.e. MRI arthrogram), the contrast is injected directly into the joint capsule under x-ray guidance prior to imaging with MRI.

What to Expect BEFORE an MRI Exam:

  • Medications: It is important for you to keep to your regular medication schedule. Please let our staff know what medications you have taken prior to your MRI Exam.

  • Food or drink:You may eat or drink anything you like before a typical MRI exam; however, some exams do require you to be NPO (nothing by mouth). You will be notified of this during the scheduling process.

  • Health history questionnaire: You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your medical history prior to entering the scan room. This will include questions about any surgically implanted devices you may have, cancer, claustrophobia, piercings, et al.

  • What to wear: You may be asked to change into a gown. Patients are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing without metal. Please remove all jewelry and piercings as they may heat up during an MRI or cause an artifact on the images. We ask that patients having a brain MRI remove all eye makeup. It, too, could create an artifact on the images or heat up, burning the skin.

  • When to arrive: You should arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This allows time for you to complete any necessary paperwork, change your clothes, and discuss your medical history with an MRI technologist before starting the exam. It also allows the MRI technologist to explain the procedure and answer any questions.

What to Expect DURING an MRI Exam:

mri machine
  • Scanning: The MRI technologist will bring you into the scan room where you will be positioned on the table with the area of interest at the center of the magnet. The scanner makes a loud knocking noise while the images are being obtained. You will be given headphones to listen to music and/or earplugs to lessen this noise. The technologist will leave the room, but will be in contact with you throughout the exam via an intercom system. You will be in full view of the technologist for the duration of the exam. All patients are given an emergency call buzzer should they need to get the attention of the technologist urgently. It is important that you lie very still to prevent blurring of the images. You may also be asked to hold your breath briefly for some scans.

  • Length of MRI exam: Typically, the average MRI is 30 to 45 minutes. Scan time can vary based on the patient's specific needs, the use of contrast medium, and the number of anatomical regions to be scanned.

What to Expect AFTER an MRI Exam:

  • Restrictions: You have no restrictions after having an MRI exam and can go about your normal activities. If contrast was used, remember to drink plenty of fluids to help eliminate the contrast from your body.

  • Exam results:  All MRI exams are interpreted by a radiologist. Under normal circumstances, the reports are available electronically to the ordering physician within 24 hours. Your referring physician will communicate these results to you.

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Minimally Invasive Breast Biopsy

If a mammogram reveals an abnormality or lump, additional tests like ultrasound, mri or breast biopsies may be needed. Radiologists at McLaren Greater Lansing perform minimally invasive, imaging-guided, breast biopsies to locate breast lumps or abnormalities and remove tissue samples for examination under a microscope.

Minimally invasive breast biopsies are performed using either ultrasound technology or digital mammography to help the radiologist locate the abnormality and remove a tissue sample. These techniques are known as:

  • Magnetic Resonance (MRI)-Guided Breast Biopsy - Magnetic resonance- or MR-guided breast biopsy uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to help locate a breast lump or abnormality and guide a needle to remove a tissue sample for examination under a microscope. It does not use ionizing radiation and leaves little to no scarring.
  • Ultrasound-guided Breast Biopsy -â This minimally invasive procedure uses ultrasound waves (ultrasound) to locate a breast lump or abnormality. It is less invasive than a surgical biopsy and leaves little to no scarring. Ultrasound imaging does not use ionizing radiation, which means the patient is not exposed to radiation during this procedure. McLaren is the only provider in the area to offer digital mammography, ultrasound and minimally invasive, diagnostic biopsies in one convenient location.
  • Breast Core Biopsy - This procedure is performed using a number of imaging modalities including ultrasound, MRI, and mammography.
  • Stereotactic Breast Biopsy - This minimally invasive procedure uses digital mammogram technology to help the radiologist locate a breast lump or abnormality and remove a tissue sample. This technique is less invasive than surgical biopsy, leaves little to no scarring and can be an excellent way to evaluate calcium deposits or tiny masses that are not visible on ultrasound. It also aids in removing a small section of the suspicious tissue with pinpoint accuracy. The sample is sent to a pathologist, a physician specializing in the analysis of tissue samples under a microscope for diagnosis. The entire biopsy should take approximately one hour.

Preparing for Your Procedure (Breast Core Biopsy):

There is no special preparation required in advance of your biopsy procedure. You may want to wear loose clothing for comfort. You may eat or drink what you normally do and perform you typical daily activities before arriving for your breast biopsy.

You should inform your doctor in advance of any medications you are currently taking whether prescription or over-the-counter. This includes aspirin, ibuprofen, blood thinners such as Coumadin, natural herbs, Vitamin E and other vitamins. Your doctor may advise you that some of these medications must be temporarily stopped several days prior to your biopsy.

Your biopsy will be performed in an outpatient setting. The entire procedure takes place in five steps:

  1. Numbing of the breast with medicine
  2. Imaging the breast to identify the biopsy area
  3. Inserting a small needle into your breast to retrieve the tissue samples
  4. Remove the small amount of tissue
  5. Placing a small marker to identify the biopsy site

During Your Procedure (Breast Core Biopsy):

After you have been properly positioned for your biopsy, your breast will be imaged and the area to be biopsied located. Your skin will be cleansed with antiseptic and numbed. Sometimes, a very small nick is made to help the biopsy needle enter the breast with ease. You may feel some pressure, but most women report no pain.

The biopsy procedure will take a very short time. Multiple tissue samples will be collected. A final set of images may be taken and your physician may place a small marker at the biopsy site for future reference to identify the exact location of the biopsy. The marker is made of titanium and poses no health or safety risk. You will not be able to feel or notice the marker after placement.

Frequently Asked Questions (Breast Core Biopsy):

Q: How much of the breast tissue or lump will be removed?
A: Physicians will only take the necessary amount of tissue samples.

Q: How long will the biopsy take?
A: Biopsy times vary. Typically, taking a total of one hour from the time you enter the exam room to the time you leave. The actual biopsy time is less than one minute.

Q: Will I have a scar?
A: Most women do not experience any permanent scarring.

Q: Will I experience any pain during the procedure?
A: You might feel a slight sting or pinch when the numbing medication is being inserted into the breast. Numbing the breast prior to the biopsy causes the rest of the procedure to be pain free.

Q: What possible side effects should I know about?
A: Your breast may be slightly tender and you may experience some mild bruising at the biopsy site: however, most women can resume normal daily activities the day after the procedure. Consult your physician for post-procedure care. 

Preparing for a Procedure (Stereotactic Breast Biopsy):

On the day of your procedure, you will be asked to undress and put on a gown to wear. The technologist will position you face down on a specially designed table with your breast placed through an opening in the tabletop. The tabletop will be raised and the physician and technologist will perform the procedure from beneath the table.

Your breast will be slightly compressed and held in a fixed position to ensure the accuracy of the procedure. X-ray images will be taken, and special software will map the exact location where tissue samples will be taken.

The skin over the biopsy area will be cleansed with a special disinfecting soap, and numbed with a local anesthetic injected into the breast with a small, thin needle. A small incision will be made and the biopsy instrument will be inserted. You may feel some slight pressure during this time. As the samples are taken, you may hear a 'click' from the biopsy device. Several samples will be taken to ensure the most accurate diagnosis possible.

When the procedure is completed, a sterile gauze and an ice pack will be applied over the incision to minimize swelling and bleeding. Before you leave, a simple pressure bandage and some sterile strips will be placed over the incision. Stitches are not required for this procedure.

Once you receive instructions concerning the care of the biopsied area, you will be free to dress and go home.

Before the Biopsy Procedure (Stereotactic Breast Biopsy):

There are several things you can do to make your procedure easier and more efficient.

  • Discuss any medication you are taking with your physician. You may be asked to discontinue the use of blood-thinning medications, including aspirin and aspirin-like products, a number of days prior to your biopsy procedure.
  • Wear clothing that is comfortable and easy to remove.
  • Avoid the use of deodorant, underarm powders or creams before the procedure. They may interfere with the quality of the images taken during your procedure.
  • Eat a light meal before your procedure.  

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Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine imaging is accurate, safe, and represents the broadest spectrum diagnostics for both general medicine and specialties including:

Oncologic Applications
  • Tumor localization and staging
  • Metastatic identification
Orthopedic Applications
  • Sports injury identification (occult bone trauma)
  • Osteomyelitis diagnostics
Other Applications
  • Hyperthyroidism diagnosis and treatment (Graves' disease)
  • Acute cholecystitis detection
  • Cardiac applications

Nuclear Medicine Overview:

  • In a nuclear medicine exam, you receive a small amount of radioactive tracer material, known as a radiopharmaceutical, usually as an injection, a gas that you inhale, or an oral pill.
  • A special camera takes pictures to see how your body absorbs and processes the tracer.
  • Nuclear medicine exams are used to detect and monitor many types of cancer; bone and cardiac scans are two common exams.
  • All nuclear medicine scans are read by a radiologist specialty trained in nuclear medicine.
  • We use state-of-the-art equipment and technology, including SPECT imaging.
  • We carefully tailor the dose to each patient, using as little radiation as possible without losing image quality.
  • Nuclear medicine scan times vary. You will receive specific instructions at the time your exam is scheduled.
  • The camera may rotate around you.
  • The tracer will lose its radioactivity, usually over the first 24 hours following the test, and pass out of your body naturally.

What is a nuclear medicine scan?

Nuclear medicine is a subspecialty within the field of radiology that uses very small amounts of radioactive material called a radiopharmaceutical or radiotracer to diagnose disease and other abnormalities within the body.

Depending on the type of nuclear medicine scan you are undergoing, the radiotracer is injected into a vein, swallowed by mouth, or inhaled as a gas. It eventually collects in the area of your body being scanned, where it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays. This energy is detected by a device called a gamma camera and/or probe. These devices work together with a computer to measure the amount of radiotracer absorbed by your body and to produce pictures offering details about both the structure and function of organs and other internal body parts.

Common Uses:

Physicians use nuclear imaging to visualize the structure and function of an organ, tissue, bone, or system of the body. Nuclear medicine scans are performed to:

  • Analyze kidney function.
  • Identify blockage in the gallbladder.
  • Evaluate bones for fracture, infection, arthritis, and tumors.
  • Determine the presence or spread of cancer.
  • Identify bleeding into the bowel.
  • Locate the presence of infection.
  • Measure thyroid function to detect an overactive or under-active thyroid.
  • Evaluate the cause of chest pain.
  • Measure the strength of your heart after a heart attack or surgery.
  • Determine how well your heart tolerates exercise and activity.


Because the doses of radiotracer administered are small, diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures result in minimal radiation exposure. Thus, the radiation risk is very low compared with the potential benefits. Nuclear medicine has been used for more than five decades and there are no known long-term adverse effects from such low-dose exposure. Allergic reactions to radiopharmaceuticals may occur but are extremely rare.

Women should always inform their physician or radiology technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant or if they are breastfeeding.
MRI patient

Whatto Expect BEFORE a Nuclear Medicine Scan

You will receive specific instructions based on the type of scan you are undergoing. In general, the following guidelines apply to all scans.

  • Medications: You should inform your physician of any medications you are taking, as well as vitamins and herbal supplements, and if you have any allergies. Also inform your physician about recent illnesses or other medical conditions. Upon checking in, you will be asked to provide a list of medications you are currently taking and also a list of known allergies. 

  • What to wear: You will wear your own clothing during the scan. Please wear something without metal clasps or zippers, as they will interfere with the study. Jewelry and other accessories should be left at home if possible, or removed prior to the scan.

What to Expect DURING a Nuclear Medicine Scan

  • Scanning: You will be positioned on an examination table. If necessary, a technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm.

    Depending on the type of nuclear medicine scan you are undergoing, the dose of radiotracer will be injected intravenously, swallowed by mouth, or inhaled as a gas.

    It can take several seconds to several days for the radiotracer to travel through your body and accumulate in the organ or area being studied. As a result, imaging may be done immediately, a few hours later, or even several days after you have received the radioactive material.

    When it is time for the imaging to begin, the gamma camera will take a series of images. The camera may rotate around you or it may stay in one position and you will be asked to change positions between images. While the camera is taking pictures, you will need to remain still. It is important that you remain still while the images are being recorded. Though nuclear imaging itself causes no pain, there may be some discomfort from having to remain in one particular position.

  • Length of scan: The length of time for nuclear medicine procedures varies greatly, depending on the type of scan. Actual scanning time for nuclear imaging scans can take from 20 minutes to several hours and may be conducted over several days. You will be given specific information depending on the type of study you are having.

What to Expect AFTER a Nuclear Medicine Scan:

  • Instructions: When the scan is completed, you may be asked to wait until the technologist checks the images in case additional images are needed. If you had an IV line inserted for the procedure, it will be removed. Through the natural process of radioactive decay, the small amount of radiotracer in your body will lose its radioactivity over time. In many cases, the radioactivity will dissipate over the first 24 hours following the test and pass out of your body through your urine or stool. You should also drink plenty of water to help flush the radioactive material out of your body.

    Unless your physician tells you otherwise, you may resume your normal activities after your nuclear medicine scan.

  • Exam results: Nuclear Medicine exams are interpreted by a radiologist. Under normal circumstances, the reports are available electronically to the ordering physician 24-48 hours. Your referring physician will communicate these results to you.

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PET - CT Scan

McLaren Greater Lansing offers positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) scanning technology that combines a diagnostic PET scan and a low dose non diagnostic CT into one unit to provide faster scan times and higher-quality images. PET-CT helps in the early diagnosis of cancer.

  • PET (positron emission tomography) looks at how the cells in your body process a radioactive tracer material that you have injected.
  • CT (computed tomography) uses x-ray technology to produce detailed images.
  • By combining two scans, a PET-CT shows both your anatomy and how your cells are behaving.
  • The exam may take two hours or more. Actual scanning time is 25 to 35 minutes.
  • Every exam is interpreted by a radiologist.
  • We use the latest technology and the capabilities of our state-of-the-art scanners play a key role in tailoring each exam to your specific needs and reduce radiation exposure.

What is a PET-CT Exam?

Pet-CT machine

PET-CT exam combines two types of scans to help pinpoint abnormal activity in the body.

A PET (positron emission tomography) scan creates an image of your body's metabolic activity and shows the rate at which your body's cells break down and use sugar (glucose). This is done by injecting a small amount of radioactive material into your blood stream and waiting for it to disperse to the area of focus. The PET scan is then performed to detect the radioisotope and creates an image on the computer screen.

A CT (computed tomography) scan is a non-invasive medical test that uses special x-ray equipment to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views of the area being studied.

A PET-CT combines the functional information from a PET scan with the anatomical information from a CT scan. When a CT scan is superimposed over a PET scan, doctors can pinpoint the exact location of abnormal activity. They can also see the level and extent of that activity. Even when an abnormal growth is not yet visible on a CT scan, the PET scan may show the abnormal activity.

Common Uses:

PET-CT scans are commonly used to find changes in the body during the early stages of disease and for staging and restaging of cancers.


  • CT: CT examinations improve healthcare and are an essential part of diagnosis and treatment planning. However, because there are risks associated with the level of radiation exposure during a CT, the medical benefit of conducting the exam should always outweigh any risks involved. No direct data has shown that CT examinations are associated with an increased risk of cancer. Extrapolations from studies of radiation exposure suggest there is a very small incremental risk.

    We pay special attention to minimizing radiation exposure without giving up image quality. We use many strategies to reduce radiation exposure, from employing the latest technology to customizing exams for each patient.

  • PET: The dose of radiotracer administered is small, resulting in minimal radiation exposure. Nuclear medicine has been used for more than five decades and there are no known long-term adverse effects from such low-dose exposure. Allergic reactions to radiopharmaceuticals may occur but are extremely rare.

    Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant or if they are breastfeeding. Some of the pharmaceuticals that are used for the study can pass into the mother's milk and subsequently be consumed by the child. To avoid this possibility, it is important that a nursing mother inform her physician and the nuclear medicine technologist about this before the examination begins. Usually, you will be asked to discontinue breast-feeding for a short while, pump your breasts in the interim and discard the milk.

What to Expect BEFORE a PET-CT Exam:

  • Medications: Most claustrophobic patients are able to tolerate a PET-CT or PET scan. Talk to your physician if you think you need some additional anti-anxiety medication for the scan. We cannot prescribe or supply medication.

  • Food and drink: Do not eat or drink anything for at least six hours before the exam. If your physician has told you to take your regular medicine, take it with water. If you are diabetic, do not drink or eat anything for at least four hours prior to your scan. Take your diabetic medication as usual. If your physician has told you to take your regular medicine, take it with water. Avoid candies, gum, or beverages other than water.

  • Exercise: Do not exercise for at least 24 hours before the exam.

  • When to arrive: Check in 10 minutes before your appointment time.

  • What to wear: Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes with no metal (zippers, under wire bras, etc.). Leave your watch, jewelry, and other valuables at home.

  • Intravenous preparation: The technologist will place an IV in your arm or hand prior to the test.

What to Expect DURING a PET-CT Exam:

  • Scanning: You will be required to lie flat with your arms raised above your head. If you think you will be unable to keep your arms above your head for approximately 35 minutes, please notify the technologist.

  • Length of exam: You should plan to be here for approximately 2-3 hours. The actual scanning and preparation time varies with the type of scan you are having.

What to Expect AFTER a PET-CT Exam:

  • Instructions: You can drive and resume normal activities immediately after leaving, unless you have taken medication to relax you. It is important that you drink as much water or fluids as possible for the rest of the day and empty your bladder as often as possible. This will result in a more rapid clearance of radioactivity from your body.

  • Exam results: All PET-CT exams are interpreted by a radiologist. Your referring physician will communicate these results to you.

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A machine is used to produce high-frequency sound waves that are transmitted through a hand-held transducer into the body.

  • Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of internal body structures.
  • An ultrasound exam may be ordered to look at internal organs like the liver, reproductive organs, or blood vessels.
  • State-of-the-art equipment ensures that the radiologist gets an ideal view.
  • Your scan will be interpreted by a radiologist.
  • Ultrasound exams typically take 30 minutes.
  • The exam is performed by a trained professional called a sonographer, who will apply a clear gel then move a hand-held wand called a transducer, over the area to be scanned.
  • You will feel pressure from the transducer, but ultrasound is painless and does not use x-ray radiation.
  • For certain exams, you may have to change positions, hold your breath, or have a full bladder.

What Is an Ultrasound Scan?

Ultrasound is defined as sound with a frequency greater than 20,000 Hertz, above the range audible to the human ear. An ultrasound exam, or sonogram, is a safe and generally non-invasive procedure that utilizes high-frequency sound waves to image an internal body structure.

Common Uses

  • Abdomen: Ultrasound can be used to detect gallstones, check the health of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and spleen, and monitor the success of a kidney transplant.

  • Blood vessels: Ultrasound exams can reveal enlargements in vessels, blood clots, or narrowing of arteries leading to the brain, which could result in stroke.

  • Pelvis: Ultrasound is used to image the uterus, ovaries, and other structures within the pelvis. It may assist in determining the source of pain or bleeding in the female pelvis.

  • Tissue differentiation: Ultrasound can locate lumps in organs and tissues and can often distinguish the difference between fluid-filled cysts and solid tumors. It is frequently used to guide a needle biopsy (removal of tissue using a needle instead of surgery) and can be used to help detect prostate cancer and monitor treatment.

  • Pregnancy: Ultrasound is regarded as the gold standard diagnostic exam for monitoring pregnancy.


There are no known harmful effects on humans for standard diagnostic ultrasound. Ultrasound imaging uses no ionizing radiation.

What to Expect BEFORE Your Ultrasound Exam

You will receive specific instructions based on the type of ultrasound you are undergoing. In general, the following guidelines apply.

  • Food and drink: If you are having an abdominal ultrasound, do not eat or drink anything eight hours prior to your exam. Pelvic ultrasound prep requires that you drink 32 ounces of water at least one hour prior to your scheduled exam. Other ultrasound exams such as thyroid, scrotal, and vascular studies do not require any preparation.

  • When to arrive: You should arrive 10 minutes prior to your appointment time.

  • What to wear: You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You will have the option to change into a gown.
Ultrasound machine

What to Expect DURING Your Ultrasound Exam

  • Scanning: A sonographer, a healthcare professional specially trained in the use of ultrasound, will apply a gel to the skin over the area being examined. The gel maximizes contact between the transducer (a microphone-like device) and the skin, thereby producing high-quality images.

    The sonographer then passes the transducer over the targeted area and obtains the desired diagnostic data. Depending on the type of exam, you may have to lie still, change positions, hold your breath, or perform simple breathing exercises.

    Transvaginal and transrectal ultrasound are specialized tests that can provide better images than traditional ultrasound or other diagnostic methods. For these exams, a smaller, specially designed transducer may be inserted into the vagina or rectum.

What to Expect AFTER Your Ultrasound Exam

  • Instructions: You have no restrictions after having an ultrasound and can go about your normal activities.

  • Exam results: Ultrasound exams are interpreted by a radiologist. Under normal circumstances, the reports are available electronically to the ordering physician 24-48 hours. Your referring physician will communicate these results to you.

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An X-ray is an exam that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. A radiograph is produced by using ionizing radiation to produce images of the inside of the body. Chest X-rays are the most commonly ordered exam. Diagnostic X-rays are the oldest form of medical imaging.

Patients Can Expect:

  • Minimal wait time
  • Acceptance of most medical insurance plans
  • Easy access parking.

What to Bring:

  • Physician referral
  • Current medical insurance card
  • Drivers license or other government issued identification
  • Wear comfortable clothing. (Avoid metal straps, buttons, zippers)
  • You may be asked to change into a gown.

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