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Patient Education/Procedure Information

We want you to feel comfortable, so please don't hesitate to ask for more information. We welcome and encourage questions and our technologists are prepared answer them.

In The Know: Imaging Terms

  • Radiologic Technologist - a medical professional who attends radiological technologist school for two years. Radiologic technologists take a national exam in each specialty they practice.
  • Radiologist - a physician who specializes in X-ray and interpreting X-ray images.
  • Radiograph - an x-ray image captured on medical film. It is a permanent image that looks like a photo negative.
  • Fluoroscopy - used to view internal organs of the body while they function. X-rays pass through the body enabling a radiologist to view images on a TV monitor.
  • Mammography - a special X-ray machine used to produce images of the breast tissue.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) - an X-ray that makes cross-sectional pictures. It passes through a patient's body through a circular scanning machine called a gantry. A tube on the gantry beams X-rays through the patient's body and into special detectors that views the image produced. The gantry rotates around the patient to obtain many images from different angles (commonly known as a "CT scan").
  • Ultrasound - is a sound with frequencies above the range of human hearing. The echoes produced when the soundwaves strike certain tissues are converted to an image on paper or a TV monitor.
  • Nuclear Medicine - procedures whereby patients are injected with a small amount of radioactive material (isotope). The isotope is used as a tracer to travel through the patient's body (specifically to the organ or area of interest).
  • Magnetic Resonance (MRI) - is a machine with a large magnet. The scanner uses a powerful magnetic field and radiowaves to gather information.

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Consider the Risks and Benefits

Always remember that x-rays may pose risks to unborn babies. Never have an x-ray procedure if you are pregnant or suspect that you are pregnant.

Your primary care doctor knows the risks and benefits to an x-ray procedure or exam and may feel that, in some cases, the benefits outweigh the risks. Early detection can make the difference in treating your health problem.

Keep track of you x-ray exams (just like you do for the medications you take). Letting your doctor know you just had an x-ray prevents unnecessary exposure.

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CT Scan

What is a CT scan?

A CT scan, also know as a cat scan (computerized axial tomography) is a diagnostic test that combines the use of X-rays and computer technology. X-ray beams are obtained from different angles. These X-ray images are then put together in the computer to create a detailed picture of bones, organs and tissue.

What should I do before the exam?

The technologist will take you to a private dressing room where you will change into a gown. Depending on your test, you may be asked to drink a contrast solution. Contrast is a liquid that improves the visibility of structures within the body. Some tests require an IV contrast agent, while others require a combination of both IV and oral contrast. If IV contrast is needed, you will be asked to sign a consent form.

What should I expect during the exam?

You will be asked to lay down on the X-ray table. The CT scanner has a large opening in it. The table will be slowly moved into the large opening as a series of pictures are taken. You may be given an injection of IV dye which enhances blood vessels and surrounding organs. The study lasts approximately one hour.

When will I get results?

In most cases, you won't get your results the day of the exam. Your doctor will receive a written report within 3 to 5 working days.

Tips for Your Exam

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
  • Wear comfortable clothes with no metal closures (cotton sweatsuit, sports bra).
  • Don't eat 4 hours prior to your procedure if you are having a CT scan of your abdomen.
  • Remain still during the exam, please. This will help keep the exam time short and keep from possibly having to repeat the study.

Claustrophobic Patients

Please have sedation prescribed from your physician before your scheduled appointment. Take sedation as directed. Sedation is not provided by the medical center.

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Lower GI Series

What is a lower GI series?

A GI or gastrointestinal series is an X-ray exam of the large intestine (colon). The test is used to determine abnormalities in the lower gastrointestinal tract, such as tumors or obstructions.

What should I do before the exam?

It is important that you don't eat or drink anything from midnight the night before your exam. It's also a good idea not to eat any fruit, nuts, peas, beans, coarse cereals or fried foods two days before the exam. On the day before your test, your diet should be clear liquids only, such as clear broth, apple or cranberry juice. At the pharmacy, purchase a Fleet Prep Kit #1 (not a Fleet enema). Follow the instructions on the package for 24-hour prep.

On the day of the exam, you will be asked to put on a hospital gown and remove anything metal that you may have on.

What should I expect during the exam?

A radiologist and a technologist will administer a barium enema. The barium fills the large intestine so that it can be seen on X-ray. During the exam you will be asked to change your position or hold your breath for a few seconds. You may experience mild to moderate discomfort. At times you may experience cramping.

What should I do after the exam?

You may eat after the exam is over. It's important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid constipation from the barium.

Note: your bowel movements may be tinged white for a few days.

When will I get results?

In most cases, you won't get your results the day of the exam. Your doctor will receive a written report within 2 working days.

Tips for Your Exam

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
  • Wear comfortable clothing with no metal closures.
  • Don't eat or drink anything from midnight the night before your exam. Essential medication may be taken with a sip of water.

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Upper GI Series

What is an upper GI series?

A GI or gastrointestinal series is an X-ray exam of the esophagus, stomach and part of the small intestine. The test is used to determine abnormalities in the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as ulcers or tumors.

What should I do before the exam?

It is important that you don't eat or drink anything from midnight the night before your exam. If your stomach isn't empty the exam may have to be postponed. You will be asked to remove any metal that you may have on.

What should I expect during the exam?

You will be asked to swallow a barium drink. The barium fills your stomach and small intestine so that they can be seen on X-rays. During the exam, you will be asked to change your position or hold your breath for a few seconds. The study lasts approximately 45 minutes. An exam involving your small intestine will take longer.

What should I do after the exam?

You may eat after the exam is over. It's important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid constipation from the barium.

Note: your bowel movements may be tinged white for a few days.

Tips for Your Exam

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
  • Wear comfortable clothes with no metal closures (cotton sweatsuit, sports bra).
  • Don't eat or drink anything from midnight the night before your exam. Essential medication may be taken with a sip of water.

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IVP

What is an IVP?

An IVP or Intravenous Pyelogram is an X-ray exam of your kidneys and other parts of your urinary system, including your ureters (tubes leading from your kidneys) and your bladder.

What should I do before the exam?

It is important that you don't eat or drink anything at least 8 hours before your test. You also will be asked to take a mild laxative the day before.

You will be asked to remove any metal that you may have on over the abdomen area.

The dye (contrast medium) contains iodine. A small percentage of people are allergic to the iodine. You will be asked questions about previous exams using contrast media and any history of allergic reaction. You also will be asked to sign a consent form.

What should I expect during the exam?

You will be given a special X-ray dye through an IV line. The dye outlines the kidneys and urinary system so that they can be seen on X-ray. This will show how well your kidneys are working. After the injection, several X-rays are taken. Each time, you will be asked to change positions and hold your breath for a brief period. After the radiologist sees your bladder fill with the dye, you will be asked to go to the bathroom to urinate. The radiologist will then look at your empty bladder on X-ray. The exam takes approximately one hour.

What should I do after the exam?

You may eat after the exam is over. It's important to drink plenty of fluids to help flush out the contrast medium.

When will I get results?

In most cases, you won't get your results the day of the exam. Your doctor will receive a written report within 2 working days.

Tips for Your Exam

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
  • Wear comfortable clothes with no metal closures (cotton sweatsuit, sports bra).
  • Don't eat or drink anything at least 8 hours before your test.

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Mammography

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray procedure of your breasts.

Mammography is a relatively painless procedure that is performed by an experienced radiology technologist. The technologist will perform the mammography by compressing your breasat between two plates attached to a special x-ray machine. The breast is then imaged from two separate angles. Any discomfort you may experience is most likely the result of pressure exerted on your breast by the compression device. The compression of the breasts allows us to achieve the best image. The actual compression is usually no more than two seconds.

What to do before the exam?

If your breasts are tender before or during your period, try to schedule your mammogram after your period ends. This does not affect the X-ray images but may make it more comfortable. If you drink caffeinated sodas and coffee, try to decrease your caffeine intake for two weeks before the mammogram. You do not have to stop all caffeine before a mammogram.

When will I get results?

You will receive a letter from our department with your results within a week. This letter will also tell you when you should return for your next mammogram. Remember you must always obtain a referral from your doctor to have a mammogram or follow-up study.

Tips for Your Exam

  • Arrive a few minutes before appointment time to complete paperwork.
  • Wear two piece clothing so that only your bra and blouse have to be taken off when you put on a gown.
  • Do not wear deodorant, powder or lotions. These may give a "false" reading on a mammogram.
  • Bring your previous mammogram film with you if they were not done at Hopkins Bayview. If we have to send for your film it may delay your results.
  • Take all medications you normally take. You can eat and drink before a mammogram.

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MRI

What is MRI?

A magnetic resonance image exam uses a powerful magnet, radio waves and computer photographic techniques to obtain very clear images of areas of the body.

What is open MRI?

Open MRI is similar to the conventional MRI in that it uses a magnet, radio waves and imaging techniques. However, unlike its conventional counterpart, there are no narrow magnetic tunnels to travel through and no loud noises. It is an ideal option for large patients, claustrophobic patients, children, and for certain procedures, such as exams for the shoulders, knees, wrists and ankles.

Open MRI isn't appropriate for all exams and requires a longer exam time since the magnet is weaker than that of the conventional MRI.

What should I do before the exam?

You may be asked to read and sign the screening sheet. The technologist will take you to a private dressing room, where you may change into a gown and lock up your clothes and valuables.

Is there anything I should tell the technologist?

Please let the technologist know if you have a pacemaker, aneurysm clips, hearing aide or metal implants or metal particles in your body.

What should I expect during the exam?

You will be asked to lay down on the exam table. A coil will be placed around the area of your body to be examined. The technologist will then move that area to the center of the magnet. You will hear a loud tapping noise during the procedure. The study lasts approximately 45 minutes.

When will I get results?

In most cases, you won't get your results the day of the exam. Your doctor will receive a written report within 3 to 5 working days.

Tips for Your Exam

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before your exam to complete paperwork.
  • Wear comfortable clothes with no metal closures (cotton sweatsuit, sports bra).
  • Eat a light meal before your exam and take medication as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Ask for headphones or ear plugs if loud noise bothers you.
  • Remain still during the exam, please. This will help keep the exam time short and keep from possibly having to repeat the study.

Claustrophobic Patients

Please have sedation prescribed from your physician before your scheduled appointment. Take sedation as directed. Sedation is not provided by the medical center.

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Nuclear Medicine

What is nuclear medicine?

Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and, sometimes, treat diseases. Nuclear medicine carries about the same risk as a common X-ray.

Cardiac Scan

This test checks the condition of the heart's arteries at rest and when under stress.

Tips for Your Exam

  • Don't eat the morning of your test.
  • Remove metal and any clothing from the waist up. You will be given a hospital gown to wear.

What should I expect during the exam?

First, an IV will be started in a vein in your arm. You will receive the first injection of radioactive material. A scan of your heart is then taken (approx. 20 minutes). You will be lying on your back with your arms above your head. The camera moves slowly around your chest. You then go for a stress test (either treadmill or a drug induced test). During the stress test you will receive another injection and will return for further scanning.

Bone Scan

Tips for Your Exam

  • You may eat before your bone scan and during the wait time.
  • Drink three glasses of fluid between the injection and the scan. This helps to improve images.

What should I expect during the exam?

You will be given an injection of radioactive material in your arm. At this time you may or may not have images taken. This takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes. You will then be given a time to return for your scan (usually within three to six hours). The return time depends on the reason for the bone scan. Once you return for the scan, it takes approximately one hour.

Thyroid Scan

Tips for Your Exam

  • Don't eat or drink anything the morning of the exam.

What should I expect during the exam?

You will be given one or two capsules that contain radioactive material. You will then be given a time to return for your scan (usually six hours). Please don't eat for two hours after you take the capsules. Once you return for the scan, it takes approximately one hour.

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Sonogram

What is a sonogram?

A sonogram, also referred to as an ultrasound, uses high frequency sound waves to take images of the inside of the body. A sonogram is a safe, painless and non-invasive tool that can play an important role in the care of pregnant women, women with gynecological problems and people with many other conditions.

What should I expect during the exam?

Depending on the area to be examined, you may be asked to undress and put on a hospital gown. An ultrasound gel will be put on your body to ensure good contact between the transducer and your skin. (the transducer is the wand that emits the sound waves and creates the image on a monitor). During a portion of the procedure, you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds.

When will I get results?

In most cases, you won't get your results the day of the exam. If needed, the ultrasound doctor will discuss your test results immediately. Your primary doctor will receive a written report within 3 to 5 working days.

Tips for Your Exam

  • Follow the instructions on the preparation sheet you were sent.
  • Do not eat or drink anything 4 hours before your exam if you are having an abdominal sonogram.
  • Drink 32 ounces of fluid if you are having an obstetrical/gynecological sonogram.
  • Return to your normal diet after the test is completed.
  • Ask the sonographer if you have any questions regarding your exam.

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X-Ray Procedures

What is a diagnostic X-ray procedure?

A diagnostic X-ray is a procedure used to make radiographs (X-ray pictures) of the bones and internal organs of the body. Radiographs help physicians detect or rule out abnormalities and disease, such as pneumonia, broken bones or signs of cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in treating many illnesses.

Common Uses of Diagnostic X-ray Procedures

Your doctor may use diagnostic X-ray procedures to study the following:

  • Head – tumors, cysts or circulation in the brain
  • Chest – circulation and diseases of the heart and lungs
  • Bones and Joints – fractures, dislocations, arthritis and evidence of healing
  • Urinary System – problems in the kidneys, ureters and bladder
  • Digestive System – problems in the throat, stomach, intestines, colon and rectum
  • Foreign Bodies – their exact location, size and type (i.e. coins, sharp objects, etc)
  • Teeth – cavities, tooth fractures and location of teeth

Before the Exam

Depending on the body part to be X-rayed, you may be asked to undress and put on a hospital gown. You will also be asked to remove any jewelry. (for your convenience, we would suggest that you leave jewelry at home).

Questions the Technologist May Ask

  • Do you have allergies, asthma or diabetes?
  • Have you ever had a reaction to a contrast medium?
  • Are you pregnant or could you be pregnant?

During the Exam

The technologist will position you and ask you to remain still for the exposure. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds. The technologist will move in and out of the X-ray room while the films are processed.

After the Exam

In most cases, you won't get results the same day of your test. Your health care provider will receive a copy of the results to review with you.

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