Your radiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating disease and injury through the use of medical imaging techniques such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET), fusion imaging, and ultrasound. Here at MRMC, professional interpretations of diagnostic images are performed by physicians from Baylor College of Medicine’s radiology department. Procedures include x-ray, CT (or CAT), MRI, nuclear medicine, 3D mammography, bone density, and ultrasound exams.
CT (CAT Scan)
CT, also referred to as a CAT scan or computerized axial tomography, is a special X-ray test that produces cross-sectional images called “slices” of the body using X-rays and a computer. MRMC utilizes the 128-slice GE Revolution HD CT machine, which guarantees you the most technologically advanced CT option in Matagorda County. The increased image clarity helps clinicians diagnose with greater confidence, and the advanced low dose technology means you’re exposed to less radiation.
Important Information before your CAT scan
Inform the technologist if you may be pregnant. If there is any possibility of pregnancy, a pregnancy test may be ordered before the exam.
Please bring a list of your current medications as the technologist will ask you several questions regarding these before your exam. These questions will include any allergies (especially to iodine) you may have, a previous reaction to X-ray “dye,” renal problems or diabetes. Inform the technologist if you are taking any medication for diabetes.
What to Expect during Your Exam
A board certified CT technologist performs your exam and the technologist will explain the entire procedure to you and provide any specific instructions for the scan. You may need to hold your breath at times and an IV may be necessary if a contrast medium or dye is required.
Some exams require you to drink an oral contrast agent. If this is necessary, the technologist will provide you the contrast and inform you about when to drink it before the scan.
It is very important not to move during the exam. You will be positioned on a scan table and then moved into the scanner. The technologist will have you in full view at all times and be in constant communication with you via two-way microphones and monitors. During this brief time, you will hear humming of the equipment as it produces the images and the scan table will move as different images are produced.
What to Expect after Your Exam
The scanned images will be reviewed and interpreted by a MRMC’s partner physicians at the Baylor College of Medicine, and a report will be sent to the physician who ordered your exam. Your doctor will discuss the results of the exam with you at your next appointment.
Also called tomosynthesis, 3D mammography is a revolutionary screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection that is packaged with a traditional 2D digital mammogram. During the 3D portion of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple breast images. A computer then produces a 3D image of the breast tissue in one millimeter slices.
Thanks to the generous support of our community and supporters through the MRMC Foundation, MRMC’s 3D-enabled Senographe Pristina Mammography System can:
- Help detect cancer when breasts are dense
- Be used in both screening and diagnostic mammography
- Reduce the number of call-backs and possible biopsies
Digital mammography is an effective way to screen for and detect breast cancer and offers several advantages over film images, including:
- Easier to read, helping radiologists make accurate diagnosis
- Covers a larger dynamic range of all areas of the breast, despite varying densities
- Can reduce the need for another mammogram
- Can be stored and transferred electronically
If detected early, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer exceeds 96 percent. Call (979) 241-3420 or (979) 245-6383 to schedule your mammogram.
What is MRI?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a revolutionary form of diagnostic imaging with great potential for diagnosing a variety of health problems at their earliest, most treatable stages. In some instances, MRI has proven to be superior to other forms of diagnostic imaging and its many clinical applications are just starting to be fully utilized. MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce computer processed images of your inner body. Unlike x-ray or CT Scan, MRI does not require the use of ionizing radiation. There is no pain or discomfort and there are no known side effects.
No special preparation is required for the MRI exam. You may eat or drink prior to the examination and take any prescribed medication. Since the procedure involves the use of a strong magnet, you should leave behind any metal or magnetic-sensitive objects such as watches, rings or other metal jewelry and credit cards. Women who think they may be pregnant should notify their physicians prior to the examination.
Upon arrival for your examination, the MRI staff will obtain some information before you enter the scanner room.
No one with a cardiac pacemaker, ferromagnetic aneurysm clip, neuro-stimulator, inner ear prosthesis, or metal foreign object in the eye will be allowed into the scanner room.
You may be asked to change into a hospital gown for the examination. For the procedure, you simply lie on a table inside a cylinder for approximately one hour. During this time the computer will view your inner body from several different angles to provide a comprehensive diagnostic study. You will hear a loud knocking sound like a drum beat while the scan is in progress, and it is important to remain still at this time. Earplugs or headphones will be available if you wish to use them. Our technologist will be in constant touch with you during the entire procedure. You will be able to talk with the technologist at any time during the procedure through an intercom system. Depending on the area of the body to be examined, a contrast material may be needed to get sharper pictures. This material is injected into a vein. Use of contrast material will be determined and administered on an individual basis by the MRI physician.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging provides a unique set of images, which will be studied by the MRI physician. The results will be reported directly to your physician. In many cases, MRI eliminates the need for additional diagnostic procedures.
If you have any additional questions about Magnetic Resonance Imaging, please call your physician or a member of our technical staff. We’re here to help.
What is Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear Medicine involves the use of radioactive materials, or isotopes, to obtain specific diagnostic information.These isotopes transmit a pattern of rays representing the organ size, shape and function. The rays are detected by a special camera which, when coupled with a computer, produces a characteristic image on a screen.
What Will the Exam Be Like?
The individual who performs the examination is a Nuclear Medical technologist. This technologist has completed a rigorous course of education and training, and works under close supervision of the radiologist (a radiologist is a physician who specializes in the study of imaged tests, such as Ultrasound, x-rays, etc.) to assure the most accurate results from your exam.
Your technologist will gently position you on the scanning table under the camera. A radionuclide will then be injected or taken orally. This makes it possible for the camera to detect certain organs and their functions. The amount of radiation to which the patient is exposed is minimal and of no significant danger. The radionuclide or tracer material is eliminated from the body in a day or two. Complications or side effects are rare.
Most scans require many different images and perhaps a few position changes. You will be asked to lie still. Each scan will take about three minutes, although some may take longer. Movement may results in the need for additional scans.
How Long Will the Exam Take?
Time will vary significantly depending on the nature of the study and other factors. Exam lengths vary from 1-2 hours.
How Will I Learn the Results?
A nuclear medicine physician will study the examination and consult with your doctor, who will then advise you of the results.
What is Ultrasound?
Ultrasound is the use of sound waves to obtain a medical image or picture of various organs and tissues in the body. It is a painless and safe procedure.
Ultrasound produces precise images of your soft tissues (heart, blood vessels, uterus, bladder, etc.) and reveals internal motion such as heart beat and blood flow. It can detect diseased or damaged tissues, locate abnormal growths and identify a wide variety of changing conditions, which enables your doctor to make a quick and accurate diagnosis.
What Will the Exam Be Like?
The individual who will be performing your ultrasound is known as a sonographer. This technologist is highly skilled and educated and works under close supervision of the radiologist. The radiologist is a physician who specializes in the study of various imaged tests such as x-ray, ultrasound, mammography, CT, MRI and Nuclear Medicine.
The technologist will assist you on to the examination table. At this time, an oil or transmission gel will be applied to the area of your body that will be examined. A transducer will be moved slowly over the body part being imaged. The transducer sends a signal to an on-board computer that processes the data and produces the ultrasound image. It is from this image that the diagnosis is made.
You won’t feel a thing except for the slight pressure and movement of the transducer over the part of the body being imaged. It is important that you remain still and relaxed during the procedure. The ultrasound images will appear on a monitor similar to a TV screen and are recorded either on paper or film for a detailed study.
How Long Will the Exam Take?
The exam will probably last from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the anatomy under study. You may be required to drink water to enhance the quality of the picture (sound travels better through water) and this could lengthen the time of the exam.
Other Uses for Ultrasound
Ultrasound is sometimes used in therapeutic applications for soft tissue injuries. It is also helpful in pre-natal care to determine the age, sex, and growth characteristics of the unborn child.
Things to Remember
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Avoid wearing jewelry.
- Follow all instructions received prior to the examination.
- Avoid soft drinks before the exam. Carbonation develops bubbles that may interfere with the image.
- Be sure to ask any questions relating to your examination. They will help the evaluation.
What is a bone density test?
A bone density test measures how strong bones are. The test will tell you if you have osteoporosis, or weak bones.
Women are at higher risk for osteoporosis than men, and this risk increases with age.
- If you are a woman age 65 or older, schedule a bone density test.
- If you are a woman age 64 or younger and you have gone through menopause, ask your doctor if you need a bone density test.
If you are at risk for osteoporosis, your doctor or nurse may recommend you get a bone density test every 2 years.
Men can get osteoporosis, too. If you are a man over age 65 and you are concerned about your bone strength, talk with your doctor or nurse.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease. It means your bones are weak and more likely to break. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist.
There are no signs or symptoms of osteoporosis. You might not know you have the disease until you break a bone. That’s why it’s so important to get a bone density test to measure your bone strength.
What happens during a bone density test?
A bone density test is like an x-ray or scan of your body. A bone density test doesn’t hurt, and you don’t need to do anything to prepare for it. It only takes about 15 minutes.