Radiology Procedures Explained
Ever wonder what those diagnostic procedures really are? Here are some definitions of some of the more common diagnostic procedures that Anne Arundel Diagnostics routinely performs.
X-ray is the field of Radiology that produces pictures by the use of ionizing radiation. Basic x-ray (radiography) records anatomic structure as a stationary photographic image on x-ray sensitive film like a negative in a regular black and white camera. X-ray identifies parts of the human body by being absorbed by dense structures like bone. X-ray is very useful to identify bone fractures and other dense objects in the human body.
CAT Scan (Computed Axial Tomography Scan) A CAT scan is a type of x-ray that is housed in an imaging tube that rotates rapidly around a body part. The x-ray source generates data that is recorded as a collection of points and then reassembled into narrow slices. CAT scans usually are used to discriminate density differences between high and low absorbing structures such as bone and soft tissue.
Mammogram A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast used for early detection of cancer. Traditional mammog-raphy uses low levels of radiation to identify tumoral calci-fications, palpable lumps and unpalpable cysts or lumps.
Fluoroscopy Fluoroscopy is a type of x-ray that tracks a moving image on a TV-like monitor. Patients either drink an x-ray absorbing solution called a contrast agent or are injected with a contrast agent to help see the area in question. Barium is a dense liquid that is given most often for fluoroscopic procedures. Fluoroscopy is generally used to diagnose upper and lower gastrointestinal conditions.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) An MRI image is created by using a magnet and a special RF (Radio Frequency) pulse instead of radiation to visualize anatomy and physiology. MRI has a special ability to image soft tissue structures that are at times covered by more dense structures like bone. Sometimes to improve MRI imaging, a contrast agent is used to help visualize an area of interest.
Ultrasound An ultrasound film looks similar to an x-ray, but is produced by releasing a sound wave. The sound wave records the size and shape of an object by reflecting the sound waves back to the transducer. Ultrasound is a safer alternative to x-ray and has revolutionized the field of obstetric imaging. Ultrasounds are used most frequently for fetal imaging, but can also be used for abdominal studies.
Stereotactic Needle Biopsy In this procedure, a physician uses an x-ray to locate a possible tumor in a woman?s breast. The patient is put in a prone position on the imaging table and the x-ray tube, compression device, and stereo and biopsy device are located under the table for the comfort and convenience of the patient. Stereotactic needle biopsies are most often used in diagnosing breast lumps that could be cancerous.
DEXA A DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) is a extremely low level x-ray of the lumbar spine or hip used to determine bone density. This procedure is used to diagnose osteoporosis.