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These services are performed at:

Diagnostic Imaging

Oxford Campus Imaging Services

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.

Safety

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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CT (Computed Tomography) Scan

ct scanner
  • A CT scanner rotates to take x-ray images from different angles all around your body. A computer puts these images together to form detailed, two-dimensional pictures.
  • CT provides clearer, more detailed pictures than traditional x-rays.
  • CT serves a wide range of purposes, such as diagnosing bone fractures and preparing for orthopedic surgery.
  • Exams typically take 15 minutes in total; the actual scanning takes just minutes.
  • Many exams involve contrast - a drink and/or injection that makes the images more informative.
  • If you are over 70 or have kidney disease, diabetes, lupus, or multiple myeloma, you'll need a blood test beforehand to make sure the contrast will be safe for you.
  • The technologist performing your exam will be nearby and able to talk to you throughout the scan.
  • CT exams require that you lie still in a confined space. Because the scanning time is so short, most people tolerate the experience well.
  • 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 reducing radiation exposure.

To protect our patients, we have implemented new precautions for diagnostic tests using contrast. Prior to the administration of elective Gadolinium-based MRI contrast agent, a CT (with Contrast), or an IVP appointment, a recent (within the last 30 days) Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) will be required for patients ages 60 and older or with a history of one or more of the indications below:

  • Diabetes
  • History of Renal Disease (including solitary kidney, renal transplant, renal tumor)
  • History of Renal Transplant
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • CHF
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Dehydration
  • Contrast exposure within the past 72 hours

What is a CT scan?

A CT (computed tomography) scan is a non-invasive medical test that uses x-rays 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. CT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue, and blood vessels provide greater clarity than conventional x-ray exams. CT is considered to be the most versatile of all imaging modalities.

Common Uses:

CT scanning is commonly used to diagnose problems such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma, and musculoskeletal disorders.

Safety:

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 minimize radiation exposure - without sacrificing image quality. We use many strategies to reduce radiation exposure, from employing the latest technology to customizing exams for each patient.

What to Expect BEFORE a CT Exam:

  • Medications: It is important for you to keep to your regular medication schedule. Please take all medications that have been prescribed to you by your physician. Just let our staff know what medications you have taken prior to your test.

  • Food and drink: You should not eat solid foods for two hours prior to your test. You may, however, drink plenty of fluids, such as water, broth, clear soups, juice, or black decaffeinated coffee or tea. We encourage you to drink plenty of fluids before your arrival to our facility.

  • When to arrive: If you are having a CT scan of your abdomen or pelvis, you need to arrive one hour before your scheduled appointment to allow time for you to drink barium sulfate before your exam and to ensure that the barium fluid completely coats your gastrointestinal tract. The barium helps to highlight body areas for the CT scan. If you are having a scan other than the abdomen, you should arrive at your appointed time.

  • What to wear: You should dress in comfortable clothing. It might be necessary for you to change into a hospital gown if there is metal in your clothing, such as a bra or zipper, within the area of interest of your study. If you are wearing jewelry or anything else that might interfere with your scan, we will ask for its removal. The CT scan is conducted in a very secure environment. It is best, however, if you leave valuable items at home.

  • Diabetic conditions: If you are an insulin-dependent diabetic, please continue to take your insulin as prescribed, but remember to drink extra fruit juices to make up for the fasting of solid foods for the 2-3 hour period that your stomach is empty. Patients who are taking diabetic medications that contain metformin should take the normal prescribed dose, but discontinue the next doses for 48 hours AFTER the CT exam. Patients should notify their primary care physician that they were instructed to discontinue their medication for 48 hours. If you need a substitute medication, please consult with your physician.

  • Intravenous preparation: Many patients receive a contrast agent intravenously (IV) during their CT test. If your physician or the radiologist has determined that this procedure will enhance your CT scan results, the technologist will place an IV in your arm or hand prior to scanning. (Please see the section on "Contrast medium" below.)

What to Expect DURING a CT Exam:

  • Scanning: Your CT technologist will bring you into the CT scan room where you will lie down on a table. The technologist will position your body so that the area you are having scanned is in the middle of the large doughnut-shaped scanner ring which holds the x-ray tube and an electronic detector. The technologist will leave the room, but will be in full view and communication with you through the observation window in the adjoining room.

    The scanner will not touch you, nor will you feel the x-rays. It will make noise and the table you are lying on may move slightly to make adjustments for a better view. It is important for you to lie very still. At some point you may be asked to briefly hold your breath as the picture is taken. During the scan, a thin beam of x-ray is focused on a specific part of your body. The x-ray tube will move very rapidly around this area, enabling multiple images to be made from different angles to create a cross-sectional picture. The x-ray beam information constructs an image for the radiologist to interpret.

  • Length of scan: Each CT scan is individualized and tailored to each patient's needs. In general, the actual image-taking is only about one minute and most examinations last approximately 15 - 30 minutes in total.

  • Contrast medium: A contrast medium, or contrast agent, highlights your organs and blood vessels and helps the radiologist see them better. The contrast agents in use today carry a low risk of allergic reaction and cause minimal discomfort for most people.

    The high speed of our state-of-the art scanners means we are able to produce high-quality images using less contrast than in the past. Contrast dilutes fairly quickly into your bloodstream, but our scanners take their pictures before the dilution occurs.

What to Expect AFTER a CT Exam:

  • Instructions: You have no restrictions after having a CT scan and can go about your normal activities. To help eliminate the contrast medium from your body, drink plenty of decaffeinated or non-alcoholic beverages. Water and juices also work well.

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

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Digital Mammography - Screening or Diagnostic

Digital mammogram with CAD

Digital Mammography - Screening and diagnostic services can vary by location.

  • Mammography is a special type of x-ray that is tuned to detect breast abnormalities.
  • Mammography is performed both as a screening test (recommended annually for women over 40 and earlier in certain cases) and as a diagnostic test (when a closer look is needed or a specific clinical issue exists).
  • All mammography are 100% digital, which translates to better detection of abnormalities in women with dense breast tissue.
  • Your exam will be read by a specially trained breast radiologist.
  • A screening mammogram takes about 15 minutes. A diagnostic exam will take longer and may include using ultrasound to get another view.
  • Please do not use deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, or ointments as they can show up and cause confusion in the images.
  • The trained professional performing your exam, called a mammographer, will work with you to properly position and compress your breasts which is crucial for obtaining high-quality images.
  • The mammographer will check the images immediately for quality.
  • For a screening mammogram, the results will be sent to you and your physician.
  • For a diagnostic mammogram, your results will be communicated to you following the exam, and, if needed, a multidisciplinary team will coordinate the next steps in your care.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast. It is used to detect and evaluate breast abnormalities, both in women who have no breast complaints or symptoms and in women who have breast symptoms including a lump, pain, or nipple discharge. An analog mammogram uses x-ray films to capture the image. A digital mammogram is a newer method that uses x-ray detectors and a computer to create the image.

Computer Aided Detection (CAD) is used and can be applied to mammography exams to help radiologists identify and mark regions of interest that are potentially indicative of cancer.

Screening Mammogram versus Diagnostic Mammogram:

A screening mammogram is an exam used to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms. Mammography plays a central part in the early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before you or your physician can feel them. Current guidelines recommend screening mammography every year beginning at age 40. In addition, women who have had breast cancer and those who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer should seek expert medical advice about whether they should begin screening before age 40 and about the frequency of screening.

Diagnostic mammography is used to evaluate patients with abnormal clinical findings, such as a breast lump or lumps that have been detected by the patient or her physician. Diagnostic mammography may also be used after an abnormal screening mammogram in order to determine the cause of the area of concern on the screening exam.

Safety:

We take special care 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 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.

Although there is no radiation that reaches the uterus during a mammogram, we prefer not to perform routine mammograms on women who might be pregnant. If you are coming in because of a breast problem and you are or may be pregnant, please notify the mammographer so that we can decide the best way to evaluate your situation.

What to Expect BEFORE your Mammogram:

  • Discussion: Prior to your mammogram, discuss any new findings, prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer with your physician.

  • What to wear: On the day of the exam, do not use deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, or ointments since these can show up and be confusing on the mammogram. Since you will need to undress from the waist up, a two-piece outfit is recommended.

  • What to bring: If possible, obtain prior mammograms and make them available to the radiologist at the time of the current exam. You will be asked a number of important questions about your medical history so that we can assess your breast cancer risk.

What to Expect DURING your Mammogram:

  • Preparation: You will be given a gown and asked to remove your clothing from the waist up. You will be escorted into the mammography room. If you have not had a mammogram before, the mammographer will explain the procedure. If you have any scars on your breasts, breast implants or skin irritations, particularly underneath your breast in the fold where the breast attaches to the chest, please point them out to the mammographer.

  • Breast compression: It is very important that you work with the mammographer to ensure that your breast is as far into the machine as possible so that the tissues deep in the breast can be examined. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and gradually compressed with a paddle (often made of Plexiglas or other plastic).

    You will feel pressure on your breast as it is squeezed by the compressor. Some women with sensitive breasts may experience discomfort. If this is the case, schedule the procedure when your breasts are least tender. Be sure to inform the mammographer if pain occurs as compression is increased. If discomfort is significant, less compression will be used.

    Breast compression is necessary in order to:

    - Even out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized.
    - Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities won't be obscured by overlying breast tissue.
    - Allow the use of a lower x-ray dose because a thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged.
    - Hold the breast still in order to eliminate blurring of the image caused by motion.
    - Reduce x-ray scatter to increase sharpness of picture.

  • Scanning: You will be asked to change positions slightly between images. Routine views are a top-to-bottom view and an oblique side view. The process will be repeated for the other breast. The mammographer will walk behind a wall or into the next room to activate the x-ray machine. The x-ray beam will remain on for a few seconds at most. You may hear a whining noise that persists even after the x-ray is turned off. This is just a mechanical part of the tube that spins at high speed and does not stop immediately even though no more x-rays are being produced.

What to Expect AFTER your Mammogram:

  • Instructions: When the examination is complete, you will be asked to wait until the mammographer determines that the images are of high enough quality for the radiologist to read.

  • Exam results: All Breast Imaging 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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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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:

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.

Pregnancy:

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:

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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Tomosynthesis 3D Mammography

The McLaren Clarkston Breast Center is the first in Southeast Michigan to offer advanced 3D mammography for breast screening.

What is a Tomosynthesis 3D mammography breast screening?

Tomosynthesis 3D imaging is a revolutionary screening and diagnostic tool designed for early detection of breast cancer. The 3D exam is a separate procedure and is performed at the same time as a traditional 2D digital mammogram.

Until recently, the best mammogram was a digital mammogram. Featuring next generation technology, tomosynthesis 3D imaging acquires a series of images of the compressed breast at different angles.  The system produces images that represent thin slices of the breast, allowing radiologists to view slices one millimeter at a time with clarity never before possible.

Now, when combined with conventional 2D digital mammography, breast cancer screening with tomosynthesis has a higher cancer detection rate than conventional 2D digital mammography alone.

What are the benefits of Tomosynthesis 3D mammography breast screening?

In addition to improved diagnostic accuracy, tomosynthesis significantly reduces false-positive recall rates, thereby avoiding unnecessary additional testing and reducing patient anxiety. Women who can benefit from 3D mammography particularly include:

  • Women with dense breast tissue
  • Women with a personal history of cancer
  • Women between the ages of 40-60

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Ultrasound

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.

Safety

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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