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Radiology Diagnostic Services
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HumanCare™

Questions and concerns

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What should I expect?

1. A certified radiologic technologist (CRT) will perform your study.
2. A radiologist doctor (MD) will interpret your study and issue a report.
3. The report will be available in your medical record for your doctor to read.
4. Your doctor will review the results with you.
Your comfort is our primary concern.  Please ask our staff for help if you have any additional questions.

How does billing work?

1. Your exam is performed and then interpreted by a doctor.
2. RADS will bill your insurance for the exam interpretation by our radiologist, and the hospital will bill for the exam.
3. The bill(s) will be processed according to your specific insurance company and plan coverage.
4. You may receive bill(s) for the portion not covered by insurance.  
Billing questions? Call 1-844-870-8058.

What about radiation? Is my x-ray, CT or IR exam safe?

Radiologists and x-ray technologists are trained to use the smallest amount of radiation necessary to obtain x-ray images. Your doctor uses these images to diagnose and treat your health condition. An imaging exam is done only when a doctor feels it is necessary for a diagnosis. Most routine imaging exams have a small amount of radiation exposure, or low radiation dose. When an exam is required to assess your health, it is important to remember that the benefits of the exam greatly outweigh any risk.

The medical decision to have an x-ray exam weighs the likelihood of benefit against the potential risk from radiation. For exams that use a small amount of radiation (i.e., chest x-ray), this is generally an easy decision. Other imaging exams may use larger amounts. A radiologist may want to consider your history of radiation exposure before recommending a procedure. Computed tomography (CT), interventional radiology, and nuclear medicine exams may each use a modest amount of radiation. If you have had frequent x-ray exams and change healthcare providers, it is a good idea to keep a record of your x-ray history for yourself. This can help your doctor make an informed decision. It is very important to tell your new doctor, the imaging technologist, or radiologist if you are pregnant before having an exam that uses radiation.

We are exposed to natural sources of radiation all the time. According to recent estimates, the average person in the U.S. receives an effective dose of about 3 mSv per year from natural radiation, which includes cosmic radiation from outer space. These natural "background doses" vary according to where you live.People living at high altitudes such as Colorado or New Mexico receive about 1.5 mSv more per year than those living near sea level. A coast-to-coast round trip airline flight is about 0.03 mSv due to exposure to cosmic rays. The largest source of background radiation comes from radon gas in our homes (about 2 mSv per year). Like other sources of background radiation, the amount of radon exposure varies widely depending on where you live. To put it simply, the amount of radiation from one adult chest x-ray (0.1 mSv) is about the same as 10 days of natural background radiation that we are all exposed to as part of our daily living.

How safe is MRI?

The powerful magnetic field of the MR system can attract objects made from certain metals (i.e., known as ferromagnetic) and cause them to move suddenly and with great force. This can pose a possible risk to the patient or anyone in the object's "flight path." Therefore, great care is taken to be certain that external objects such as ferromagnetic screwdrivers and oxygen tanks are not brought into the MR system area. As a patient, it is vital that you remove all metallic belongings in advance of an MRI exam, including external hearing aids, watches, jewelry, cell phones, and items of clothing that have metallic threads or fasteners. Additionally, makeup, nail polish, or other cosmetics that may contain metallic particles should be removed if applied to the area of the body undergoing the MRI examination.

The powerful magnetic field of the MR system will pull on any iron-containing object in the body such as a medical implant, certain aneurysm clips or certain medication pumps. Every MRI facility has a comprehensive screening procedure and protocols. When carefully followed, these steps ensure that the MRI technologist and radiologist know about the presence of any metallic implants and materials in the patient. Special precautions can usually be taken. In some unusual cases, due to the presence of an unacceptable implant or device, the exam may have to be canceled. For example, the MRI exam will not be performed if a ferromagnetic aneurysm clip is present because there is a risk of the clip moving and causing serious harm to the patient. In some cases, certain medical implants can heat substantially during the MRI exam as a result of the radiofrequency energy that is used for the procedure. This heating may result in an injury to the patient. Therefore, it is very important to inform the MRI technologist about any implant or other internal object that you may have prior to entering the MR scanner room.

The powerful magnetic field of the MR system may damage an external hearing aid or cause a heart pacemaker, electrical stimulator, or neurostimulator to malfunction or cause injury. If you have a bullet or any other metallic fragment in your body there is a potential risk that it could change position and possibly cause an injury. In addition, a metallic implant or other object may cause signal loss or alter the MR images making it difficult for the radiologist to see the images correctly. This may be unavoidable, but if the radiologist knows about it, allowances can be made when obtaining and interpreting the MR images.

For some MRI exams, a contrast material known as a gadolinium contrast agent may be injected into a vein to help improve the information seen on the MR images. Unlike the contrast materials used in x-ray or CT scans, a gadolinium contrast agent does not contain iodine and, therefore, rarely causes an allergic reaction or other problem. However, if you have a history of kidney disease, kidney failure, kidney transplant, liver disease, or other conditions, you must inform the MRI technologist and/or radiologist before receiving a gadolinium contrast agent. If you are unsure about the presence of these conditions, please discuss these matters with the MRI technologist or radiologist prior to the MRI examination.

How safe is ultrasonography?

Ultrasonography or "ultrasound" is not based on ionizing radiation, so it is particularly useful for women of child-bearing age when CT or other imaging methods would otherwise result in exposure to radiation. Ultrasound is the most widely used medical imaging method for viewing the fetus during pregnancy. Routine examinations are performed to assess and monitor the health status of the fetus and mother. Ultrasound examinations provide parents with a valuable opportunity to view and hear the heartbeat of the fetus, bond with the unborn baby, and capture images to share with family and friends.

Ultrasound imaging has been used for over 30 years and has an excellent safety record. It is based on non-ionizing radiation, so it does not have the same risks as x-rays or other types of imaging systems that use ionizing radiation. Although ultrasound imaging is generally considered safe when used prudently by appropriately trained health care providers, ultrasound energy has the potential to produce biological effects on the body. Ultrasound waves can heat the tissues slightly. In some cases, it can also produce small pockets of gas in body fluids or tissues (cavitation). The long-term consequences of these effects are still unknown. Because of the particular concern for effects on the fetus, organizations such as the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine have advocated prudent use of ultrasound imaging in pregnancy. Furthermore, the use of ultrasound solely for non-medical purposes such as obtaining fetal ‘keepsake’ videos has been discouraged. Keepsake images or videos are reasonable if they are produced during a medically-indicated exam, and if no additional exposure is required.

I am pregnant. Is my exam safe?

Knowing that a patient is or could be pregnant is important information for your doctor. Pregnancy, for example, might explain certain symptoms or medical findings. When a pregnant patient is ill or injured, the doctor will carefully select medications to avoid potential risks to the developing child. This is also true of exams that use radiation.

Most x-ray exams do not pose a serious risk to the developing child of a pregnant woman. However, as with any medical procedure, there is always a risk for complications. The actual risk depends on how far along the pregnancy is, the type of x-ray imaging, and the area of the body under examination. X-ray exams of the head, arms, legs and chest do not usually expose an unborn baby directly to x-rays. Typically, the x-ray technologist will take special precautions to ensure that an unborn baby is not directly exposed.

Sometimes pregnant patients need exams of the abdomen or pelvis. Ultrasound is typically used if the purpose of the exam is to monitor the fetus. Ultrasound does not use x-rays and poses no known risk to the pregnancy. If the doctor cannot use ultrasound to answer questions about your health concern, other forms of imaging may be used. When possible, the type and method of imaging exam will be carefully chosen to minimize the amount of radiation exposure to the baby. It is important that you tell the doctor and the x-ray technologist if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before the exam is performed.

Some advanced abdominal and pelvic imaging exams deliver greater amounts of radiation to a developing pregnancy. Advanced imaging may be necessary to answer questions regarding your health. These exams include computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine, and fluoroscopy exams. Nuclear medicine exams are different than CT and fluoroscopy imaging, which deliver radiation from the outside. In nuclear medicine exams, the patient usually swallows, inhales or is injected with a material that emits radiation (radiotracer) to produce the image. For nuclear medicine procedures, women who are breastfeeding should take special precautions. Some of the radiotracer can pass into the mother's milk and on to the child during breastfeeding. It is important to tell the doctor and the technologist if you are breastfeeding before the exam—preferably at the time of scheduling. Certain precautions must be taken and special instructions given for breastfeeding mothers.

Different forms of imaging provide different information about your health. It is important to tell the technologist or radiologist that you are or might be pregnant. This allows your doctor to plan your medical care with both you and your baby in mind. Remember, this is done to reduce any potential risk and optimize your medical care.

Are there special considerations for children?

Medical imaging is valuable. Imaging examinations help physicians make accurate diagnoses that can lead to proper treatment for your child's illness. X-ray, CT, fluoroscopy, nuclear medicine and IR use radiation to produce diagnostic information; ultrasonography and MRI do not. Is the benefit worth the small risk? To determine if the benefit is worth the risk, there are some questions you should ask your doctor, including:

Is the imaging test medically necessary?
If the answer is yes, then the benefit will most certainly outweigh the risk.

Can previous tests substitute for this exam?
If your child has had other exams that your doctor is not aware of, make sure your doctor receives copies of those exams. You may be able to avoid repeating exams your child has already undergone.

Are there alternative exams that do not require radiation? Ask your doctor if ultrasound or MRI can be substituted.

With radiation exposure, one size does not fit all. This is a point of emphasis of the Image Gently® campaign, developed by an alliance of medical societies and professionals focused on radiation safety for children. You may wish to have your child visit RadInfo 4 Kids to learn more about their imaging exam prior to their appointment.

Are screening exams worthwhile?

Screening examinations are tests that are performed on a large group of symptom-free people who may have an undetected disease. The goal of screening exams is to discover a disease at an early stage so that it can be successfully treated. The benefits of early discovery must outweigh the potential health consequences of radiation exposure to the large number of people who do not have the disease.

Mammography is an example of a successful screening program for women over the age of 40. This program, in place for about 40 years, has resulted in reduced death rates from breast cancer in women. There has been no evidence of any increase in the breast cancer rate due to the low-level exposure to radiation. Mammography screening works.

Colon cancer. Computed tomography (CT) screening for colon cancer, called CT colonography (CTC), or virtual colonoscopy, has been gaining attention due to its ability to find early colon cancers. Today's evidence suggests that undetected colon cancer is sufficiently prevalent in the general population to justify a screening examination once every five years.

Lung cancer. The National Lung Screening Trial found that screening with CT could be beneficial for current and former heavy smokers at high risk for lung cancer. This decade-long clinical trial established low-dose helical CT as the first validated screening test with the potential to reduce mortality due to lung cancer. For more information visit our Chest CT page.

Heart disease. Calcium-scoring examination for early detection of heart disease. In certain scientific studies looking at calcium scoring in the heart, high calcium scores, determined by CT imaging, correlated with heart disease in people without symptoms. The radiation exposure necessary to perform these exams has gone down markedly with newer CT technologies. Thus, many believe that this examination may benefit people who have early stages of heart disease but no symptoms.

Is a radiologist a doctor?

Yes.  To become a radiologist requires:
College (Bachelors Degree), 4 years
Medical school (Medical Degree), 4 years
Internship (General medical training after medical school), 1 year
Residency (Training to become a licensed radiologist), 4 years
Fellowship (Specialty training in radiology), 1-2 years

Our board-certified radiologists have speciality training in trauma, neurology, abdominal organs, musculoskeletal, MRI, women's Imaging, nuclear imaging, interventional / surgical radiology, and imaging informatics.

Who is interpreting my exam?

Your exam will be interpreted by one of our board-certified radiologists. A radiologist is a physician who completed medical school and received specialized training in obtaining and interpreting medical images using x-rays (radiographs, CT, fluoroscopy),radioactive substances (nuclear medicine), sound waves (ultrasound) or magnets (MRI). Almost all physicians examine patients, obtain medical histories, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe and treat injury or disease. A radiologist connects your medical image to other examinations and tests, recommends further examinations or treatments, and talks with the doctor who sent you for your exam. Radiologists also treat diseases by means of radiation (radiation oncology or nuclear medicine) or minimally invasive, image-guided surgery (interventional radiology). A radiologist must first graduate from an accredited medical school, earn an MD or DO degree, pass a licensing examination, perform a year of internship, and complete at least four years of graduate medical education (residency) in radiology. After residency, these doctors may choose a fellowship program and sub-specialize in one or more areas of radiology. Radiologists who are board certified are approved to practice in the field by either the American Board of Radiology.

What is a radiologic technologist?

Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations and perform radiation therapy treatments. Radiologic technologists who perform medical imaging examinations work closely with radiologists and are responsible for accurately positioning patients and ensuring that a quality diagnostic image is produced. Radiologic technologists work directly with patients and are responsible for explaining procedures, positioning patients on the examining table and adjusting immobilization devices to obtain optimum views of specific body areas. The technologist moves the imaging equipment into position and adjusts equipment controls based on his or her knowledge of the procedure.

The technologist also is responsible for using radiation safety techniques to ensure exposures for team members and patients meet ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) standards. To prevent unnecessary radiation exposure, a technologist uses radiation protective devices like lead aprons and shields. In addition, the technologist sets the appropriate collimation to minimize scatter radiation. Collimation is the process of adjusting the x-ray beam to the anatomic area appropriate for the procedure.

The technologist also may operate mobile x-ray or ultrasound equipment to obtain images in the emergency room, operating room or at the patient's bedside. Technologists also assist radiologists with general radiology, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound procedures.

Registered radiologic technologists must complete at least two years of formal education in an accredited hospital-based program or a two- or four-year educational program at an academic institution and must pass a national certification examination. With additional education and training, a technologist can specialize in a particular diagnostic imaging area. Radiologic technologists are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. To remain registered, technologists must complete continuing education credits.

How long will it take for my exam to be read?

Your exam will be read the same day it is performed. The only exception is if there are unique findings that require further consultation amongst several radiologists.

You will receive the results through the physician who referred you for the exam, so the time will depend on when they have a chance to review the report and follow up with you.

How do I prepare for my exam?

See below for detailed information about each type of exam (modality), as well as preparation instructions.

Some information courtesy of RadiologyInfo.org, a service of the American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America

Services & Procedures

Learn more about your procedure and how to prepare for your visit

CT

Computerized Tomography (CT Scan) is a computer-assisted medical imaging technique in which small amounts of X-rays are projected through a specific region of the body to produce cross-sectional images known as slices. These slices are more detailed than an ordinary X-ray. Because of the clarity and detail provided by the CT scan, patients can potentially avoid exploratory surgery. A CT scan provides a lower radiation exposure, which results in a faster and safer examination for the patient.

How to prepare

Preparing for the procedure

This procedure requires no special preparation.

Please inform the staff if there is any possibility of Pregnancy at the time of scheduling your appointment.

X-ray

Radiography (X-ray) is the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging. An X-ray image is produced when a small amount of radiation passes through the body and strikes an image receptor, such as a film. Some X-ray exams improve visibility by creating contrast through a range of substances, which may be introduced into the patient by swallowing, injection, or enema. This is known as Fluoroscopy. X-rays allow physicians to perform quick evaluations, and often detect diseases in the early stages, when chances of recovery are greatest.

How to prepare

Preparing for the procedure

This procedure requires no special preparation.

Please inform the staff if there is any possibility of Pregnancy at the time of scheduling your appointment.

MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the safest, most comfortable imaging techniques. The MRI exam is a painless method of looking inside the body without using surgery or ionized radiation (X-rays). The MRI scanner uses magnetism and radio waves, both harmless, to produce remarkably detailed pictures of the human anatomy. The Open MRI Scanner can accommodate a variety of patients including those who are claustrophobic, patients who weigh more than 200 pounds, or anyone who simply wants a more comfortable exam experience. Our specialized training and extensive experience enables us to give our patients the best possible diagnostic expertise.

How to prepare

Preparing for the procedure

This procedure requires no special preparation.

Please inform the staff if there is any possibility of Pregnancy at the time of scheduling your appointment.

Ultrasonography

Ultrasonography (Ultrasound) is a painless and safe diagnostic study used to examine internal structures of the body using sound waves. These high frequency sound waves are used to access the progress of fetal development, to evaluate internal organs, or to image blood vessels. Ultrasound does not involve any radiation or require the use of drugs, dyes, or chemicals. Ultrasound is a fast, effective tool that can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and determine proper treatment.

How to prepare

Preparing for the procedure

This procedure requires no special preparation.

Please inform the staff if there is any possibility of Pregnancy at the time of scheduling your appointment.

Mammography

A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast. A special machine designed specifically to examine breast tissue is used. It takes a different form of x-ray and uses lower doses of radiation than a usual x-ray. Because these x-rays do not go through breast tissue as easily, the mammogram machine has two plates that compress the breast to spread the tissue apart. A more accurate image is obtained with less radiation this way.

‍Tomosynthesis is a special kind of mammogram that produces a 3-dimensional image of the breast by using several low dose x-rays obtained at different angles. For tomosynthesis, the breast is positioned and compressed in the same way as for a mammogram but the x-ray tube moves in a circular arc around the breast. The information from the x-rays is sent to a computer, which produces a focused 3-D image of the breast.

How to prepare

Preparing for the procedure

This procedure requires no special preparation.

Please inform the staff if there is any possibility of Pregnancy at the time of scheduling your appointment.

Stereotactic Biopsy

Stereotactic Biopsy is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure that uses a local anesthetic. If a mammogram shows a lump or other abnormality, the next step is to determine if it is cancerous. This is done with a biopsy of the tissue. A stereotactic needle biopsy is used for lesions that cannot be easily felt. In this procedure, computers assist the radiologist in determining where to place the needle. A biopsy involves the removal of the area of concern, which is then analyzed in a laboratory. Procedures such as the stereotactic breast biopsy are usually performed on an outpatient basis.

How to prepare

Preparing for the procedure

This procedure requires no special preparation.

Please inform the staff if there is any possibility of Pregnancy at the time of scheduling your appointment.

Bone Densitometry

Bone Densitometry is the latest, most accurate method for measuring bone loss, often associated with osteoporosis. By using a technologically advanced X-ray densitometer, it’s possible to diagnose fracture risk early, allowing for customized treatment for each patient. While general X-ray is unable to detect osteoporosis until bone loss reaches 30 percent, bone densitometry can detect loss as small as one to three percent, with one-tenth the radiation exposure of a chest X-ray.

How to prepare

Preparing for the procedure

This procedure requires no special preparation.

Please inform the staff if there is any possibility of Pregnancy at the time of scheduling your appointment.

Interventional Radiology

Interventional Radiology, or IR,  is a medical sub-specialty of radiology utilizing minimally-invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat disease. The concept behind interventional radiology is to diagnose and treat patients using the least invasive techniques currently available in order to minimize risk to the patient and improve health outcomes. IR procedures have less risk, less pain and less recovery time in comparison to open surgery. Interventional radiologists are medical doctors with an additional six or seven years of specialized training after medical school. All of our Interventionalists have completed a two-year fellowship program after their diagnostic radiology residency and are certified by the American Board of Radiology. Learn more about our IR program here.

How to prepare

Preparing for the procedure

This procedure requires no special preparation.

Please inform the staff if there is any possibility of Pregnancy at the time of scheduling your appointment.