Diagnostic Imaging Services
Diagnostic X-rays, or radiographs, allow physicians and specialists to diagnose any injuries and abnormalities in the body. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that is focused into a beam, which passes through the body and creates a 2D image on film or a computer screen. Diagnostic radiology is used to identify a wide range of problems like heart conditions, broken bones, blood clots, and gastrointestinal issues, and x-rays are the first-line of investigation for identifying these issues. This form of patient care is a noninvasive, painless way to diagnose disease and monitor treatment progress.
Types of Diagnostic Imaging
Doctors will order various types of diagnostic imaging depending on what condition they are looking to diagnose and treat. While the type of equipment, staff, and procedure are different for each type of medical imaging, they all produce images that help doctors make accurate diagnosis and develop an effective plan for treatment. Some of the most common imaging tests are x-ray imaging, CT scans and MRIs.
Radiography is the most common X-ray procedure for a broken bone or a mammogram, in which a single image is recorded on film or a computer. Using an X-ray machine, diagnostic imaging is taken to produce images of the body without any invasive procedures.
The most common types of sports injuries requiring x-rays include:
- Broken bone or fracture
- Ankle or wrist sprain
- ACL tear
- Shin splint
- Tennis elbow
A CT, or computerized tomography scan, takes multiple X-ray images from different angles of the body and uses computer processing software to create cross-sectional images of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues. A CT scanner is used when a doctor needs highly detailed images to identify problems in soft tissue. During a CT scan, you lie down on a table in the CT machine as the table slowly moves through the scanner. The scan can take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour. Depending on the part of the body being evaluated, CT scans may use a contrast dye, which can be administered intravenously or orally, to make images more visible.
MRI is short for magnetic resonance imaging. This test uses a powerful radio frequency and magnetic field to produce detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Doctors use this test to diagnose a wide range of conditions and injuries, particularly the musculoskeletal system. It gives radiologists and orthopedic surgeons a more in-depth view of the damage to the bones, soft tissues or nervous system.
An MRI of the brain and spinal cord can be used to diagnose:
- A brain injury
- Blood vessel damage
- A tumor
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injuries
An MRI of the heart looks for:
- Blockage in the blood vessels
- Damage from a heart attack
- Heart disease
- Coronary artery disease
- Structural heart issues
Risks Involved with X-rays
Diagnostic imaging is generally safe, painless and has a small associated risk. Since x-ray imaging uses ionizing radiation, and x-rays fall in the range between gamma-rays and UV light on the EM spectrum, there is a risk of increased radiation exposure or an allergic reaction. The benefits of early detection and treatment of a broken bone or serious medical condition far outweigh the potential side effects. If you might be pregnant or have had an allergic reaction to an x-ray or other medical imaging in the past, talk to your doctor. To minimize risk, imaging tests should only be performed when necessary to diagnose a medical question, treat a disease, or guide a procedure.