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Frequently Asked Questions

MRI

Q: How is an MRI different from a CT OR XRAY?

A: MRI does not use ionizing (x-ray) radiation. Instead, MR creates high-quality images through the combination of a strong magnetic field and radio waves. MRI can detect certain diseases much earlier than other medical imaging techniques can, making it the diagnostic tool of choice for many physicians.

Q: Are there any restrictions to having an MRI exam?

A: Yes. Because the MRI machine uses a strong magnetic field, which will move objects made of ferrous metals, let your doctor know if you have:

A pacemaker
A defibrillator
Aneurysm clips
Cochlear implants
A neuro-stimulator
Metal implants
Steel surgical staples or clips
An implanted drug infusion device
Heart stents or Biliary stents
Any implant made partially or wholly of iron or steel

Even metal objects not made of iron or steel can interfere with the exam – so don't bring any of the following into the examination room (a secure place to store your valuables will be provided):

Coins
Jewelry
Watches
Keys
Dentures or partial plates
Hearing aids

Q: Can you scan my whole body while I’m in there?

A: No. MRI is very specific and we can only scan the area that the physician has indicated on the requisition. We need to concentrate on that area to make certain that we get the best answer for you and your doctor.

Q: What happens if I can’t lay still or want to get off the table?

A: You will be able to communicate with the technologist with a call-bell and over an intercom throughout the exam. It is very important that you hold still during the entire time a set of pictures is being taken so the images turn out clearly. We take every measure to ensure that you are comfortable throughout the exam. On a rare occasion, patients may feel claustrophobic in the MRI scanner. Some of these people may require a light sedative during the examination which we will give to you in the form of a small tablet taken by mouth. In this case, you will not be able to operate your motor vehicle after the exam and will require a ride home.

Q: May I have an MRI exam when I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

A: While an MRI scan has no known side effects, it is not recommended for pregnant women unless it is medically indicated. If you are breastfeeding or pregnant please let your technologist know so they can go over the risks and benefits of the exam with you and your doctor.

Q: Why is the scanner so noisy?

A: The scanner works with strong magnetic fields. Inside of MRI machine there are parts called gradients. During a scan the gradients turn on & off so fast that they create a sound.

Q: Will I need a driver?

A: Some procedures require a driver for your safety (i.e., if sedation is administered for claustrophobia). If you are claustrophobic, inform the scheduler when the appointment is made.

Q: Will my head be in or out of the scanner?

A” The area of the body being scanned will be in the center of the scanner. For most procedures--with the exception of the head, neck, chest and upper abdomen--your head will remain outside the scanner.

Q: Is there any risk to having an MRI?

A: MRI is very safe. There are no health risks associated with the magnetic field or the radio waves used by the machine, nor have any side effects been reported. Patients with a pacemaker or certain types of aneurysm clips should not have an MRI.

Q: I am scheduled for an MRI Arthrogram. Is the procedure painful?

A: During the injection of contrast into the joint, you may feel some slight pressure or discomfort as the joint is distended. The sensation is temporary and will pass within 4-6 hours after the procedure. Some soreness may also be present at the injection site for up to 24 hours.

Q: How soon after my shoulder injection may I resume normal activities?

A: You may resume regular activities immediately after the procedure. The radiologist will recommend, however, that you limit strenuous or "stress-bearing" activities on the affected joint for 24 hours following the procedure.

CT

Q: How long until my doctor will get results?

A: Typical report turnaround time is 24 hours or less.

Q: Can I get a copy of my images?

A: Yes, you can request a copy of your images on DVD from the technologists after your exam is completed. This is a courtesy patient copy, additional copies are subject to process and handling fees that medical records can provide more information on.

Q: What if I'm allergic to the contrast?

A: If you have a known history of contrast media allergy alert your doctor before scheduling so they can decide how they want to proceed.(i.e. change to a without contrast exam or PRE-MEDICATE prior to exam)

Q: Will it hurt?

A: The scan will not hurt but if you have to have contrast, you will feel a needle stick and you may experience a warm flush sensation during the injection.

Q: Do I have to have an IV?

A: Some exams are performed with or without contrast. If your exam is ordered with intravenous contrast then you will be required to have an IV inserted for the exam.

Q: Do I have to drink anything?

A: Some exams do require you to drink oral contrast to better visualize anatomy and give you a better exam. This varies per exam and the technologists doing your exam will explain any special instructions your particular exam requires.

Q: Why do I need lab work?

A: To evaluate how well your kidney function is prior to contrast injection.

Q: How long will the exam take?

A: Usually 15-20 minutes is average once we have lab results. If additional imaging is need it could take longer.

Q: How is an MRI different from a CT?

A: CT and MRI images sometimes look very similar, but the equipment used to perform the scans is very different. CT uses ionizing radiation just as with a routine X-ray, while MRI uses a magnetic field. Depending upon the clinical indications, one may be preferred over the other, or both may be desired.

Q: I am scheduled for a CT Arthrogram. Is the procedure painful?

A: During the injection of contrast into the joint, you may feel some slight pressure or discomfort as the joint is distended. The sensation is temporary and will pass within 4-6 hours after the procedure. Some soreness may also be present at the injection site for up to 24 hours.

Q: How soon after my shoulder injection may I resume normal activities?

A: You may resume regular activities immediately after the procedure. The radiologist will recommend, however, that you limit strenuous or "stress-bearing" activities on the affected joint for 24 hours following the procedure.

Mammo

Q: What is breast tomography or a 3D mammography breast exam?

A: Breast Tomography or 3D mammography is a new screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection that can be done by itself or in conjunction with a traditional 2D digital mammogram. During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over your breast, taking multiple breast images. Then, a computer produces a 3D image of your breast tissue in thin slices, providing greater visibility for the radiologist to see breast detail than a traditional 2D mammogram

Q: Why should I get a 3D mammography breast exam? What are the benefits?

A: With conventional digital mammography, the radiologist is viewing all the complexities of your breast tissue in one flat image. Sometimes breast tissue can overlap, giving the illusion of normal breast tissue looking like an abnormal area.

By looking at the breast tissue in thin slices, the radiologist can provide a more confident assessment. In this way, 3D mammography finds cancers missed with conventional 2D mammography. It also means there is less chance your doctor will call you back later for a “second look,” because now they can see breast tissue more clearly.

Q: What is the difference between a screening and diagnostic mammogram?

A: A screening mammogram is your annual mammogram that is done every year. Sometimes the radiologist may ask you to come back for follow-up images, which is called a diagnostic mammogram, to rule out an unclear area in the breast or if there is a breast complaint that needs to be evaluated.

Q: What should i expect during the 3D mammography exam?

A: 3D mammography complements standard 2D mammography and is performed at the same time with the same system. There is no additional compression required, and it only takes a few seconds longer for each view.

Q: is there more radiation dose?

A: Very low X-ray energy is used during the exam, just about the same amount as a traditional mammogram done on film.

Q: Who can have a 3D mammography exam?

A: It is approved for all women who would be undergoing a standard mammogram, in both the screening and diagnostic settings.