Imaging

Imaging Services at Fairchild Medical Center combines the latest techniques for non-invasive imaging studies with compassionate patient care.

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Our staff is devoted to making our patients’ radiology experience as comfortable as possible. We do our best to ensure that our patients are never rushed in and out of our facility, and that all of their questions and needs are always given staff members’ full attention. We work hard to keep to our schedule and minimize patient waiting time.

Computed Axial Tomography (CT Scan)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Nuclear Medicine
Diagnostic X-Ray
Ultrasound
Mammography
DEXA (Bone Density Scan)
Radiology FAQ

CT Scan (CAT) Computed Axial Tomography

CT or a CAT Scan is an x-ray exam that involves an x-ray camera rotating around the patient to create special images.  These images are best described as taking a loaf of bread and creating bread slices.  The x-ray camera creates these slices by going very quickly around the patient as the patient moves through the camera beam.  The machine looks like a very big doughnut with a small table that moves into the center of the machine.  Each exam takes fifteen (15) to thirty (30) minutes.The exam usually requires the CT Technologist to start an IV and inject a small amount of “x-ray dye”, sometimes called “Contrast”, (a clear liquid with a small amount of Iodine) into your body.  This dye goes directly into the blood vessels so that the Physician can interpret the blood flow into different organs in your body.  Specific CT Scans also may use a type of Contrast that you drink before the exam.  Each exam takes a different preparation, so be sure to ask the Receptionist what the preparation is for your exam.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI is an exam that puts the patient into a magnetic field to create images.  The procedure is very similar to a CT scan, as the machines look almost identical.  The patient is asked to lie down on a narrow table that is moved into a doughnut shaped machine.  The patient is asked to lie as still as they can for fifteen (15) to sixty (60) minutes depending on the area of the body to be imaged. MRI is different from a CT Scan as there is no radiation exposure to you. These exams take special preliminary screening to ensure that it is safe to bring the patient into the magnetic field.  You will be called a day or two prior to the exam and asked preliminary questions.  When you arrive for your exam, you will be given a second set of questions to answer and give back to the MRI Technologist.  Each exam takes a different preparation, so be sure to ask the Receptionist who schedules your exam what the preparation is for your exam.

Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear Medicine is an exam that creates images of the function of different organs and tissues of your body.  This type of an exam involves giving you the patient a small injection of radiation “Tracer” that is specifically designed to go to different organs and tissues. Each exam is a little different depending upon the organ or tissue studied; however, there are some basic similarities.  You will receive an injection and be taken directly into the exam room to be imaged.  You may be asked to come back at a later time to have more images taken.  The exam will require that you lie down on a very narrow table while the machine rotates around your body taking images as it moves. If you are having a Nuclear Medicine exam to study the function of your heart, then you will be asked to either exercise on a treadmill, a supine bicycle, or a Physician or Nurse will use a special drug to speed up your heart to simulate exercise.  Once your heart reaches a specified heart rate the Nuclear Medicine Technologist will inject a special tracer and then bring you to the department for the images.   You will then be asked to come back later in the day, or even the next day for a second set of pictures as your heart is back at its normal state. Each exam takes a different preparation, so be sure to ask the Registrar what the preparation is for your exam.  The exams take between fifteen (15) minutes and multiple days of coming in for quick images lasting less than an hour.

Diagnostic X-ray (Radiography)

X-rays are the basic foundation of all imaging procedures.  X-rays are used to look at bones, lungs, and other organs.  Usually these exams are not scheduled and you are able to come whenever you are available.  Most exams take less than ten (10) minutes, but some of the more specialized exams that involve fluoroscopy (motion images) can take an hour or two.  The X-ray Technologist will ask you to remove any metal and sometimes have you undress and wear a hospital gown to ensure that any image artifacts that might be created by your clothing is removed.  The Technologist will ask that you remain very still during the exam and you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to help reduce movement.

If your exam involves fluoroscopy, be sure to ask the Receptionist what special directions are needed for your specific exam.

Ultrasound (also called sonography or ultrasonography)

Ultrasound is a special imaging exam that employs sound waves to image different parts of the body.  These sound waves are created at such a high pitch that we are unable to hear them, but like ripples on water, create waves that are interpreted by a computer into images.  The exam usually takes thirty (30) to sixty (60) minutes.  During the exam the Ultrasound Technologist will apply warm gel to a specified area of your body and move a special tool, called a transducer, across your body.  This transducer creates the sound waves and also absorbs the resulting echo and sends the information to the computer.Different Ultrasound exams require different preparation.  Please ask the Receptionist what special directions are needed for your specific exam.

Breast Imaging and Diagnosis (Mammography)

Mammography is a special x-ray that is designed to image the breast tissue with a small amount of radiation.  This special machine squeezes the breast tissue so that the radiation that is needed is quite small, but the images that are created are very detailed.  This exam usually takes fifteen (15) to thirty (30) minutes.

The only preparation required is that you avoid the use of anti-perspirants/deodorant, lotions, perfumes, etc as these could show up on your mammogram.  When you arrive in the department, the Mammography Technologist will ask that you remove all of your clothing from the waist up and wear a special gown.  All of our Mammography Technologists have passed advanced courses in Mammography and are all registered by the state or national boards.

Mammograms show abnormalities that are too small to be felt by you or your Physician.  It is recommended that every woman over the age of forty (40) have an annual mammogram.  If your previous mammogram was performed at another facility, please inform the Receptionist so that a copy of your last mammogram can be ordered to enable us to compare the two.

DEXA (Bone Density Scan)

A DEXA Scan is an exam that uses very fine line x-rays to image the composition of your bones.  It is used to determine if you, the patient, has or is in the process of developing Osteoporosis.  The X-ray Technologist will have you remove all of your clothing, except your undergarments below your waist including your shoes.  Then your height and weight are measured to help the computer determine your bone density.  The exam takes fifteen (15) to twenty (20) minutes.  During the exam you will lie on the exam table with your legs strapped together with Velcro and a positioning aid will be placed between your knees to assure proper alignment of your hip joints.  A small X-ray tube will move over the top of your body creating the images that will determine the Bone Density.  After the exam you will be asked to wait while the Technologist analyzes the images, and once analyzed   you will be free to get dressed and leave.

Before the exam, you will be asked to refrain from taking calcium supplements two days prior to the exam and not have a CT Scan or an exam that uses Barium for at least one week before.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to do anything to prepare for my test?

Procedures other than computed tomography usually require no special preparation. For some procedures, it may be better to abstain from using talc or underarm deodorant prior to your test, or to abstain from eating or drinking. Your physician or a member of the radiology department staff will tell you about any necessary preparations before the day of your test.

How do I get the results of my test?

Your physician will receive a formal report from the radiologist who performs your procedure. In most cases, the radiologist reviews the scan as soon as the procedure is completed. If you have an appointment with your physician later in the day, your doctor will usually have spoken with the radiologist about your results by the time he or she meets with you. Patients having mammograms will receive a written report on their procedure at the time of their visit. If you do not have an appointment with your physician shortly after your test, ask your physician how the results of your test will be given to you.

What is mammography?

Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system and high-contrast, high-resolution film for examination of the breasts. Successful treatment of breast cancer depends on early diagnosis. Mammography can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that mammography can detect 85 to 90 percent of breast cancers in women over 50. Current guidelines from the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend that beginning at age 40, women get annual mammograms.

What is a CT scan?

A computed tomography (CT) scan is a non-invasive diagnostic technique that enables a physician to scan a patient’s chest, abdomen, and pelvis for abnormalities such as masses. CT is often accompanied by dyes or other image enhancers called “contrast media.” You may take the contrast media orally (drinking it), be given via injection, or both. The contrast media is absorbed differently by different tissues in your body, and helps each type of tissue show up more clearly when scanned. After a few hours, the contrast media dissolves and is passed out of your body when you urinate. The CT scanner includes an x-ray machine that picks up signals from the contrast media absorbed by your body, and a computer that turns signals from the scanner into a three-dimensional image. This image gives the radiologist a finely-detailed picture of the area scanned.

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, is a method of creating an image of the internal organs through the use of high-frequency sound waves. The sound waves are recorded and displayed as a real-time visual image. No radiation is used in ultrasound imaging. Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show movement of internal tissues and organs, and enable physicians to see blood flow and other functions.

What are x-rays?

X-rays are pictures produced by sending a stream of electrically charged, slightly radioactive particles through the body. Different types of tissues (bones versus organs, for instance) absorb these particles differently. By placing a sheet of x-ray film on the opposite side of a person from the source of the particles, a picture of bones and tissues can be created.