Doctors use radiology services to get a visual picture of the inside of your body so that they can better diagnose and treat your health problems. Most of these procedures are noninvasive, and they are generally painless for you, as the patient. Keep reading to learn about three of the most common types of radiology services that are used by doctors today and what you could expect if you were to need one of these procedures.
A computerized tomography (CT) scan takes a succession of X-rays from multiple angles so that your doctor can have a comprehensive view of certain parts of your body from inside. A CT scan can take roughly 30 minutes. Doctors use this procedure to diagnose and monitor internal bleeding and injuries, bone and muscle diseases, and many forms of cancer.
Prior to undergoing a CT scan, you may receive a contrasting dye, depending on what your doctor has ordered. The dye simply improves the pictures, allowing the technician and your doctor to see the structures in the body better. During the actual scan, you will lie down very still on a motorized table that will move you through a structure similar to a tunnel. You will be exposed to a minimal amount of radiation during this time.
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses radio waves and magnets to create a detailed picture of your tissues and organs. The magnet field of the machine temporarily rearranges hydrogen atoms in your body, and the machine's radio waves emit light signals, which are detected and then arranged in a cross section image of the part of the body that is being captured.
These procedures are used to get a thorough picture of the tissues, organs, and skeletal system, offering diagnostic evidence of issues with the blood vessels, heart, spinal cord, brain, joints, and bones. The MRI procedure is painless. You may or may not receive a contrasting dye, and you will move through a tube on a motorized table. The imaging scan can take up to an hour, and the scan's results are typically clearer than that of the CT.
Ultrasounds utilize high-frequency sound waves in order to capture the interior of your body. A gel will be applied to the part of the body that needs to be seen, then a wand will be placed on top of the gel. There are some kinds of ultrasound, such as transrectal or transvaginal, where the wand is actually inserted into the body.
Ultrasounds can take 30 minutes, and no radiation is emitted during the procedure. Since sound waves cannot travel effectively through bones or area, some areas of the body—like the lungs and brain—will require more comprehensive testing like an MRI or CT scan.