A CT scan uses a technique that combines X-rays to create a cross-sectional view of your body. You may hear a CT Scan called a CAT Scan.
What Does CT Stand For?
CT stands for “computed tomography.” Tomography comes from the Greek word tomos meaning “slice.” Tomography refers to any form of imaging displaying a cross-section through the body or object using either X-ray or other technologies. Computed tomography is combining the X-ray features with computer technology in order to create highly detailed images or slices that physicians use to diagnose and treat patients.
How Do CT Scans Work?
CT scans are extremely beneficial because they allow medical professionals to see into the interior of the body without making incisions. This technology was not available 40 years ago which lead to a lot of invasive, exploratory procedures that may or may not have yielded conclusive results.
CT scans use the power of X-rays and computer software in order to create medical images. The equipment looks like a large circular chamber with a bed inside. You’ll lie down and are then slowly moved inside the circular chamber or “gantry.” The that you are lying on will move you in and out of the gantry. The interior of the chamber is equipped with video and microphone so CT technicians and doctors can still hear and see you.
CT scans do not take too much time, at most 30-45 minutes. It is very important for patients to remain as still as possible in order to produce the clearest images. Inside the CT’s opening, on one side there is an X-ray tube that emits X-rays and on the other side of the circle is a large detector. As the machine makes an entire rotation, X-rays move through the body and are caught by the detector. The detector captures the X-rays as one “slice” or angle and transfers them to computer software that translates the image.
What are CT scans used for?
What a CT scan searching for in the body is dependent on what the patient needs. Doctors use CTs for a number of reasons: broken bones, cardiovascular problems, blood clots, bleeding, cancer detection and much more. At Doctors Imaging in Metairie, our CT machine ensures a thorough examination for patients and accurate diagnosis for doctors.
If you have more questions about what a CT scan is, what to do to prepare for your CT or what to expect, you can visit our CTServicesPage. If you would like to schedule a CT appointment you can do so through our RequestanAppointment page or you can call our offices at 504-883-8111 Monday through Friday 8:00am until 5:00pm.
CT scans are used by doctors in order to create detailed cross-sectional images of the internal tissues and organs. By using the lowest possible dose of radiation in combination with computer technology, doctors can give patients clear and accurate diagnoses. For those who have never had this particular imaging procedure performed, this preview might help calm your fears or concerns.
What Is a Low-Dose CT Scan?
A CT scan uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology in order to create images. X-rays use a small amount of radiation in order to show the body’s internal structures and produce images. On average, Americans are exposed to 3.1 mSv of radiation annually. CT scans use a slightly higher amount than that and qualified radiologists use the lowest possible dosage based on the size of a patient.
What Happens During the Exam?
CT scanners have the appearance of a tube with a spinning detector that collects the images your radiologist will use. For some procedures, the radiologist may ask that you abstain from eating for one or more hours prior to your examination.
Your CT scan will proceed as follows:
While lying on your back, a table will move your body slowly, feet-first, through the machine.
If needed, your doctor may request contrast for your CT scan procedure. Contrast is a substance that is used during imaging procedures to better understand your medical condition. Contrast material will be administered through an IV or by drinking a flavored substance.
As you are moved through the machine, your technologist will be able to see, hear and speak to you.
The images and report are created after the procedure is performed, and you and your personal doctor can review the results together to determine your treatment options. You may feel a warm sensation or a metallic taste after an injection.
You should inform your doctor if you have medication allergies or an allergy to iodine. You should also let your doctor know if you suffer from diabetes or any heart, thyroid or kidney conditions as contrast material may sometimes cause an adverse reaction in patients with these conditions. Otherwise, CT scans are non-invasive and painless and can provide incredibly useful information for your doctors to use in providing the best treatment options for you.
Doctors Imaging is now offering low-dose CT lung cancer screenings, recommended annually for those at high risk for lung cancer, for the low cost of just $99. Lung screening is performed without contrast. To schedule your appointment, use our online appointment form or call 504-883-8111.
Quitting smoking can be one of the most challenging addictions to overcome. But it can also the most beneficial.
According to the Center for Disease Control, on average 443,000 people die every year as a result of cigarette smoking and another 8.6 million live with a disease attributed to smoking. Tobacco companies have dedicated countless hours and funds toward finding the perfect amount of nicotine to keep consumers addicted. If you are one of the lucky few that is able to quit smoking then you have already given yourself a longer and healthier lifestyle.
But if you are or were a long-term smoker, then there are still health risks that you should be conscious of, and give proper medical attention to.
Common Medical Imaging Tests Ex-Smokers May Need
Below is a list of some medical imaging procedures that former cigarette smokers should consider having performed in order to determine the damaging effects that smoking may have had on their health.
CT Scan / CAT Scan
A CT Scan can be beneficial for a former smoker in that it examines the organs and structures of the chest cavity. Since the area of the body that is most affected by cigarette smoking is the lungs, examining all areas of the pulmonary system is essential. By using X-ray and computer technology, CT-scans provide cross-sectional images of the lung, liver and heart tissues. CT scans are also useful in diagnosing cancer and guiding biopsy procedures in the event that your doctor finds something that needs further examination. Screening for Lung Cancer with Low-Dose CT is now recommended annually for certain former or current heavy smokers aged 55-80 years. Doctors Imaging offers the test for $99.00 and you can call to schedule after you have a doctor’s order. If the cost of the test is a problem, call Doctors Imaging and ask to make special arrangements.
Another harmful effect of long-term cigarette addiction is the narrowing and damage to the body’s blood vessels. This is a dangerous effect because it can lead to stroke and heart attack. By having an MRI procedure performed, images of the blood vessels in the heart, brain, kidneys, aorta, and extremities can be properly seen and examined.
Many think that ultrasounds are just for pregnancy, but ultrasounds are non-invasive and so detailed today that they can provide four-dimensional images of the internal cavities. Ultrasounds are useful if you experience chest pains or heart palpitations, both common in long-term smokers, as ultrasounds are beneficial for the examination of the blood flow and heart valve functions.
What’s the Next Healthy Step for You?
The vast majority of these procedures are relatively non-invasive and can provide fast and detailed results. If you have already taken the first step in obtaining a healthier lifestyle by quitting smoking, then give yourself another benefit, get screened for lung cancer with a CT scan and learn what your body needs to be healthier and live longer.
When children get sick or injured, it’s up to the parents and physicians to work together to find the best treatment options for the child. If your child requires hospitalization or surgery, then your child’s pediatrician will likely order one of these common medical imaging exams for children. Learn more about the common types of medical imaging, as well as the benefits and risks of each procedure.
All About Common Medical Imaging Exams for Children
Ultrasounds are one of the most common and frequently used medical imaging procedures. Ultrasounds use sound waves and computer technology to see into the internal structures of the body. Because of the lack of radiation used, they are completely safe to perform on children. Women will often have several ultrasounds performed throughout their pregnancy and all are harmless. Ultrasounds can help determine conditions like cardiovascular birth defects, dysfunction in the reproductive organs, injuries after traumatic incidents like falls or car accidents, and possible cancerous masses. This procedure is also completely painless for children so there is no need for sedation or anesthesia.
CT Scan / CAT Scan
A CT Scan or CAT scan is another medical imaging procedure that your doctor may ask to perform. CT scans use a combination of X-ray and computer technology to examine the body and form images for further study. CT scans are commonly performed when doctors need cross-sectional images of the internal organs such as the chest cavity, abdominal areas, or the brain. If your doctor needs to perform a pediatric CT, the child may be asked to not eat for several hours prior to the examination so that the images will not be distorted. Children will also have to remain very still and silent during the scan. A common practice for CT scans is to administer contrast material so certain growths or blockages can be seen better. Contrast material can be given to a child through an IV or by swallowing the solution. If your child has allergies or a kidney condition, you should inform the doctor or technician prior to the scan.
CT scans use small amounts of radiation in order to better highlight the different types of structures in the body. Although the dose is relatively small, repeated CT scans can incur a slightly higher risk of cancer. But the advantages in diagnosis that CT scans can provide far outweigh the potential risk. The best way to limit the exposure is to only have CT scans performed when they are essential and to have the mechanisms narrowed onto one part of the child’s body. Discuss options with your doctor and child.
X-rays are another extremely common medical imaging procedure performed on both adults and children. If your child has a recent injury or needs surgery, doctors will often ask that an X-ray be performed to determine conditions like bone fractures, breaks and growth dysfunctions. X-rays are performed relatively quickly so the time your child spends exposed to the small doses of radiation is limited. Ask your doctor or imaging facility if they use analog X-rays or digital. Digital X-rays use much smaller doses of radioactive material to examine the body.
MRI or a magnetic resonance imaging exam is an imaging practice that doctors will usually perform if the child has a cardiovascular or brain condition, bleeding problems, childhood cancer or a type of growth disorder. MRIs use no forms of radiation so children are safe to have this procedure performed. MRIs use radio and magnetic waves to excite the atoms within the body and then use computer technology to collect these atoms and form the image of the body. Possible points of discomfort for a child would be remaining still for very long and having contrast material administered.
PET-CT scans are a form of nuclear medicine that doctors use to obtain images for better diagnosis. PET-CT scans use radioactive material in order to create the images that the doctors will use to plan treatment options. This imaging procedure is most often performed if a doctor is concerned about conditions like childhood cancer or cardiovascular and neurological disorders. Doctors will likely only use CT scans or another kind of imaging procedure for children unless the potential information to be gained is essential.
Having any medical imaging procedure performed can be a scary experience for both parents and children. But it is important to remember that these tests are created to improve the health of children. If you have serious reservations or fears, speak with a doctor or technologist about all of your questions. Your child cannot ask these questions, so it your job to stay informed and calm so they can stay healthy and happy.
Doctors Imaging is prepared for your child’s visit to our calm office environment. Scheduling is simple, and you can either do it online, or by simply calling 504-883-8111.
Appendicitis is one of the primary causes of childhood surgery and if parents cannot recognize the symptoms quickly, it can lead to a great deal of pain for children and fear for parents.
What is the Appendix? The appendix is a small pouch, about 4-5 inches long, that rests on the front, right side of the body and connects to the large intestine. The appendix is an organ that most physicians believe serves no function because of the lack of symptoms after removal. Researchers theorize that the appendix might be an organ that can reboot the immune system with healthy bacteria after a bout of infection in the digestive system.
How Does the Appendix Become Infected?
When bacteria is trapped in the appendix, the organ becomes inflamed due to antibodies flooding the organ in the hopes of fighting off dangerous infections. Trapped bacteria can be the result of a hard collection of stool or by pressure on the lymph node in the groin. When the bacteria in the appendix are blocked from leaving, the appendix becomes irritated. This is usually when the abdominal pain begins in children.
What are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?
Early Symptoms: An early symptom of appendicitis is pain, often in the center of the abdomen but sometimes on the right side. The pain may be dull at first but may become more sharp or severe. Accompanying symptoms may include slight fever (above normal but less than 100 degrees), vomiting or nausea. Some individuals, particularly children, experience loss of appetite.
Later Symptoms: As the condition progresses, severe pain is usually felt in the lower right part of the abdomen. As the appendix becomes further inflamed, symptoms may include:
severe or worsening pain or cramping in the abdomen, rectum or back
swelling or tenderness in the abdomen
severe nausea or vomiting
high fever (over 100 degrees)
diarrhea or constipation
inability to expel gas
Appendicitis can be difficult to diagnose because a number of other conditions can cause similar symptoms. Not everyone with appendicitis exhibits all of these symptoms. If you or your child have any of these symptoms, particularly abdominal pain that continues to worsen, contact your doctor immediately.
If the appendix pain is left untreated, the organ will fill with pus and bacteria causing it to rupture. A ruptured appendix will cause extreme abdominal pain along with other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, loss of energy and appetite and will need urgent medical attention. If your child is complaining of persistent stomach ache or pain and it hurts to touch their right side of their body, you can be almost sure that their appendix is infected and needs to be removed.
Appendicitis in children is often the child’s first experience with any kind of surgery. Broken bones, falls and accidents are more typical reasons why children seek urgency medical attention, so if you can recognize that your child is displaying the symptoms of appendicitis, they will be understandably frightened. Try to keep them as calm as possible until a physician can see them.
How is Appendicitis Diagnosed?
A physician or other healthcare provider will perform one or all of the following tests to determine the extent of the appendix infection.
Often, they’ll begin with a physical examination by pressing gently on the area and checking the child’s vitals.
After that, an ultrasound will be performed on the child. Ultrasounds use the power of sound waves in order to image the interior of the body. Ultrasounds are totally painless and can help doctors determine the extent of the infection and whether it can be treated and minimized with antibiotics or if surgery is necessary.
They may also recommend having a CT scan performed to determine the presence of appendicitis in children. CT scans (also known as CAT scans) use the power of X-rays and computer software to create cross-sectional images of the organs and soft tissues of the body. CT scans can be extremely beneficial in pediatric appendicitis cases in order to rule out other causes of abdominal pain like injury or bleeding.
An MRI may be used to help diagnose or evaluate symptoms associated with appendicitis because it is non-invasive, fast, and does not use ionizing radiation.
In some cases, an abdominal or chest x-ray may be the initial imaging study. Constipation and sometimes even pneumonia may be causing abdominal pain similar to that seen with appendicitis.
How is Appendicitis Treated?
There are three treatment options for appendicitis in children:
Removal of the appendix with surgery. Small incisions and laparoscopy are usual methods to remove of the appendix. The child will stay in the hospital for 1-2 days and be discharged with antibiotics.
If the appendix is ruptured, surgery is needed immediately. Once the appendix is removed, the child will have to stay in under hospital observation for several days — possibly longer than a week to monitor infection or fever.
Interval appendectomy is treating an appendix infection with antibiotics. As the infection subsides, surgery becomes more an option rather than a necessity.
Smoking is one of the worst vices to have. Thankfully, over the past 50 years, research and education about the dangers of smoking have become widespread. Still, knowledge of the danger is only part of the battle. For current smokers, it’s never too late to quit and there are several medical options that can support your efforts to quit.
Nicotine Patches and Gum Can Ease Your Cravings
Nicotine is the highly addictive chemical additive in cigarettes that keeps you coming back for more. In some ways, nicotine is as deadly as the dangerous carcinogens found in cigarettes. Patches and gum provide just enough nicotine to avoid immediately harm you. But be careful: You can actually overdose on nicotine. While using these products, you may still be addicted to nicotine. Nicotine gum has proven effective at stopping people in the beginning of their transition out of smoking cigarettes. In the beginning, you are taking in about the same amount of nicotine. And then you slowly decrease your levels in an effort to wean yourself off the habit of smoking. For many smokers, one of the hardest parts of quitting is losing that oral habit, so chewing gum can be helpful in keeping that bit of routine. However, be careful not to give in to the cravings when you are using nicotine replacement products. The overload of nicotine to your system can have harmful side effects.
Prescriptions Can Assist With Nicotine Withdrawal
Some smokers have found relief from the addiction through nicotine replacement therapy found with certain prescription medicines. The two major brands of anti-smoking medications are Zyban and Chantix. Zyban contains the active ingredient Bupropion and helps to lessen the urge to smoke. Chantix contains Varenicline which helps with nicotine withdrawal. If a user decides to smoke again, the medicine in Chantix blocks the nicotine from cigarettes. These medicines have serious side effects such as nausea, sleep disturbance, constipation, flatulence, and vomiting as well as headaches, abnormal dreams, and taste disturbance as well as some psychological problems.
Electronic Cigarettes and Vaping Products Are Unproven for Helping You Quit Nicotine
The sale of electronic cigarettes or e-cigs has exploded in the last 3-5 years. The products allow users to enjoy the sensation of smoking without tobacco. Early e-cigarettes were filled with a solution of propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings which are superheated to a breathable vapor. Like the patch and gum, the amount of nicotine in the e-cig solution is supposed to decrease your smoking until you don’t have the urge anymore. Electronic cigarettes have come under fire because of the health risks of the chemicals in the solutions. Additionally, some critics say that the product simply acts as a stall before actually quitting.
“Since no single product or substance has been associated with the illness, persons should consider not using e-cigarettes while this investigation is ongoing, especially those purchased from sources other than authorized retailers (e.g., e-cigarette products with (tetrahydrocannabinol) THC) and those modified in a manner not intended by the manufacturer.”
“Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should consult with their health care provider and use proven treatments. Irrespective of these findings, e-cigarettes should never be used by youths, young adults, pregnant women, and adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”
On Sept 9, 2019, the FDA warned Juul Labs that it had illegally marketed its vaping products as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes without approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the agency said. In a warning letter to the e-cigarette company, the FDA raised concerns over Juul’s outreach efforts, including testimony that a representative told high school students that Juul was “totally safe,” The New York Times reports. The letter comes amid the public health crisis over e-cigarettes, with more than 400 cases of potentially vaping-related illness reported in the U.S.
Never buy electronic cigarettes and related products from unauthorized sellers because of the risk that vaping ingredients can trigger fatal lung disease in otherwise healthy people.
Find Support From Your Doctor, Peers and Others
If you are interested in using medical smoking cessation products, speak to your doctor about your quitting solutions before you start. Weaning yourself off of any addiction is extremely difficult. That’s why if you are starting this journey, you should definitely find support. Reach out to an online community and start avoiding same activities that you may associate with smoking. The benefits of quitting smoking, no matter when, can be felt immediately. Former smokers report better moods, better digestion, better taste, better sleep patterns and not to mention the long-term health benefits.
The Next Step: Lung Cancer Screenings
By using low-dose CT scans as lung cancer screenings, radiologists are able to determine the presence of lung cancer better than ever before. Because of our technologically advanced low-dose CT technology, our radiologists’ experience, and highly trained staff, patients of Doctors Imaging can be assured that their lung cancer screening is thorough. Doctors Imaging often sees the damage of smoking on the body and encourages you to enjoy the benefits of quitting smoking as soon as possible. We recommend that if you are over 50 and used to or still smoke cigarettes or tobacco, you should consider a lung screening. The earlier lung cancer is detected and treatment has begun, the higher your chances are of survival.
Every patient is different as well as every injury. The way people injure themselves, the condition of the affected area prior to the injury, as well as the patient’s response to injury, are all factors in assessing the damage as well as creating a plan for the restoration of the area. If you have obtained an injury you feel you can’t care for on your own, you should speak to your doctor about scheduling a procedure that will be best able to determine the extent of the damage and after you and your physician can discuss plans to heal and avoid further injury. Here is a list of common medical procedures that your doctor may schedule for you in order to determine the degree of injury.
An X-Ray is usually the first procedure a doctor will schedule for an injury, particularly sports-related injuries. X-rays are some of the oldest and most used forms of medical imaging. X-rays are common procedures for joint and bone fractures and breaks. X-rays are also used for examining arthritic joints and determining the location and condition of cancer cells in the bones. X-ray procedures are totally painless and just require the patient to lay very still for the length of the imaging as the slightest involuntary movement can distort the image and the procedure will have to be restarted. Getting an X-ray will be the fastest way to determine if there has been a bone break, dislocation or fracture.
An MRI Scan
Your doctor may also order an MRI scan if the injury cannot be properly determined from an X-ray or if your injury pertains to any of the joint, muscular or skeletal systems of the body. An MRI scan would be particularly helpful if your injury has caused any type of vascular problem such as internal bleeding or clotting or if there is soft tissue damage. MRI scans are useful in determining any overall damage from an injury beyond what an X-ray can relate. MRI scans contain a minute amount of pain from an intravenous injection of contrast material but nothing further. Contrast material will not have a reaction in the body excluding a slightly cool sensation unless the patient has an allergy to iodine.
A CT Scan
Your doctor may also order a CT scan for an injury. Do not be confused if your doctor orders a few tests for you. It does not necessarily indicate an extreme amount of physical damage. Your doctor could just be trying to get the best angles and images in order to make the most thorough diagnosis and by extension the best medical plan for mending your injury. Your doctor may order you a CT scan if he is particularly worried about tissue damage. CT scans using contrast material are able to create cross-sectional images of organs and tissues as well as highlighting which are healthy and which are not. CT scans are relatively painless as well, excluding the pinprick of the IV needle, but in some cases, the contrast material is swallowed to outline the digestive system.
Make the Choice
If you have an injury that cannot be helped by over the counter medications and naturalistic healing methods, you should speak to your doctor about ordering some of these procedures because a serious injury left unattended can become a much more harmful problem. Without proper medical attention and testing, a slight injury can morph into a complex affliction. Even with injuries that feel minimal in pain should be examined by a doctor in order to avoid further complications and injury to the area. The advances in medical technology have provided us with the tools and resources to make better choices concerning patient experience and healing.
CT and PET-CT scans are very common procedures that doctors administer every day to help localize their examination and to provide the most thorough diagnosis. Both procedures contain varying, minimal risks but can provide huge benefits for patients that need a more in-depth examination and specialized treatment.
What is a CT scan?
A CT scan or a Computed Tomography scan is a medical procedure that uses x-ray radiation and fascinating computer technology to create cross-sectional images of the body’s organs and tissues. CT scans can also be called CAT or Computed Axial Tomography. CT scans take helical images of the examined part of the body which produces better 3-dimensional imaging. The better the image, the better the diagnosis your doctor can make. CT scans are particularly useful in the examination of tissues, cancer staging, and determining vascular disease.
What is a PET-CT scan?
A PET-CT scan or Positron Emission Tomography is a medical procedure similar to a CT scan but PET-CT scans are commonly used in determining the difference between healthy and diseased tissue. Using nuclear medicine these exams allow particular focus on oncological symptoms in the brain and heart as well as any vascular or tissue abnormalities.
What are the procedures like?
The biggest difference between a CT and a PET-CT scan is the machinations of the procedure. There are varying states of discomfort between both procedures, but both are relatively painless and easy to complete for any patient.
A CT machine looks like a large tire with the patient placed inside the “hole.” The patient is placed on the examination table and will be administered contrast material through the mouth or intravenously. The feet will be the first to enter into the machine and the body will be slowly moved into the chamber. The procedure lasts approximately 10-30 minutes. Patients typically report that they hear a slight whirring sound which is the machine rotating around them gathering imaging. The doctor will able to speak to you and you will be able to respond.
A PET-CT scan is similar to a CT scan in some ways but the biggest difference between the two is the instructions prior to the exam. Most doctors and facilities will request that a patient not eat at least 4 hours prior to the scan and to drink lots of water. The exam also lasts slightly longer at about 30-45 minutes. Contrast material is commonly used as well and will either be administered through an IV or by inhalation. If the PET-CT scan is being administered because of possible heart disease, the patient will often be asked to perform a stress test. The body will be examined at rest and during exercise in efforts to determine any cardiovascular problems. You may also hear a buzzing or clicking sound during this procedure.
Which procedure is more painful?
Both procedures have a minimal amount of pain and discomfort. The most common complaint is concerning the IV injection site or a claustrophobic feeling. But the contrast material is necessary for properly determining the condition of tissues and veins as well as highlighting possible cancerous cells. Furthermore, the body moves through the machine. It only covers the area that will be examined — it does not encapsulate the entire body.
Are there any risks?
Doctors and imaging facilities have been able to minimize the risks surrounding these procedures to practically nothing. Both a CT and PET-CT scan use small amounts of radiation to image the examined area. If you are pregnant or could possibly be pregnant, you should let your doctor know. There is no medical evidence that the amount of radiation is dangerous for an unborn child. But if there is another safer method to examine, your doctor can help you understand your options. Also if you have any implanted devices, artificial body parts or features such as hearing aids or dentures, talk to your doctor about what needs to removed for the procedure.
Medical imaging is a form of technology that has revolutionized the medical field in the past century. With these new innovations, doctors were able to elevate the standard of practice and the experience of the patient. Now, areas of pain or trouble can be non-invasively examined and treatment can begin without the patient even needing to go under. But when did the innovation of medical imaging begin?
Read below to take a trip down memory lane and find out how the medical field and the technology industry have been working together to build a better, healthier world.
Röntgen performs X-Ray in 1895
Professor Wilhelm Röntgen accidentally discovers the ability to look through the skin and see the bones of the body while performing experiments on another project. While working with a cathode ray generator, he noticed an image that was left when the cathode rays came into contact with the vacuum tube. He performed the first X-ray on his wife’s hand and even gave the technology the name we use today, calling this discovery “X” rays because they were unsure what exactly they were. This invention was eventually standardized by William Coolidge and his X-ray known as the “Coolidge tube” is what all modern X-ray machines are based from. The first X-rays required at least 11 minutes of exposure to produce a quality image. Now X-rays take only a few seconds and they use about 2% of the radiation amount seen in the early 20th century machines.
Scientists Use Ultrasounds in the 1960s
The basics of sonar had been discovered and utilized during World War II as a form of maritime warfare. In the early 1960s, scientists discovered that sending sound waves into the body would bounce off the internal structures and then returned to the ultrasound machine to be reformatted into images for doctors to see. This allowed doctors to non-invasively search for tumors and other growths.
Damadian Discovers MRI in 1970
Dr. Raymond Damadian discovers that different animal tissues emit different signals, as well as that cancerous tissues, take much longer to return the signal sent through them. This is the basis for magnetic resonance imaging. In 1977, Dr. Damadian created the first full-body MRI machine which he named the “Indomitable.”
Hounsfield Invents CT Scans in 1972
The 1970s showed the first instance of computer technology mixing into the medical field with Sir Godfrey Hounsfield’s invention of the CT machine. He theorizes that you could see into an object if you took X-rays from different angles of the object through a machine that would appear as “slices” which could then be put together to form an image. With his idea, he formed the first “axial tomography” machine which we now know as the CT machine. In 1979, he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and was later knighted by the British Royal Family.
Since then, all of these machines have entered into the digital age and are now updated with the latest technology available. This means that there is less potential risk for patients as well as a greater ability to diagnose and treat.
Emphysema is just one of several conditions under the umbrella term “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” COPD is a condition that causes the lungs to have difficulty taking in air. COPD includes conditions like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. Emphysema is the deadliest of the conditions and we will explore the symptoms and the diagnosis process. In Louisiana alone, more than 7% of the population is affected by COPD.
Source: COPD Foundation (PDF).
Symptoms of Emphysema and COPD
Many patients may have the disease but be unaware of it. Here’s a look at signs you may have the emphysema or COPD:
The earliest symptom of emphysema is shortness of breath. Even the slightest activities may tire you out.
A cough that won’t go away
Chest tightness or chest pain
How Doctors Identify Emphysema
What does emphysema look like? To begin, the interior of the lungs are filled with small air sacs called alveoli. These air sacs expand with oxygen when you breathe in and allow oxygen to get into the bloodstream. Emphysema is a condition that causes these air sacs to weaken and ultimately rupture. When they rupture, there is less area for oxygen to be taken in and since emphysema is a chronic condition, these alveoli will continue to weaken and rupture until the lungs are not able to expand and contract on their own.
Emphysema is most notably a result of cigarette or tobacco smoking. The chemicals found in cigarette smoke can total over 7,000 and they are extremely toxic to the entirety of the body, but the lungs take most of the damage. Upon inhalation, the hot smoke and toxic chemicals damage the lung tissue and with an addictive habit like cigarettes, the damage happens multiple times a day for years. With every puff, more lung tissue dies and once it is dead, there is no replacing it. In fact, about 85 to 90 percent of all COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking in the United States.
If you are a long-term smoker or a former smoker and are over the age of 50, your chances for developing emphysema are much higher. The signs of COPD or emphysema can be confused with other conditions because things like shortness of breath or difficulty catching breath could be misconstrued as part of the aging process or the result of lifestyle choices. You see, as the air sacs are slowly destroyed, air becomes trapped in the lungs and is difficult to expel as well as obtain. Furthermore, if you are experiencing a tightness in the chest that does not seem to pass, these could be the beginning warning signs of COPD and possibly emphysema.
Diagnosing emphysema requires a few different tests. To begin, the doctor will use a physical examination to test things like your vitals and blood pressure. Following a physical, doctors will usually perform a combination of pulmonary function tests to examine the strength and performance of the lungs. Pulmonary function tests include breathing into tubes that can test how much air you are expelling, how fast it is being expelled, and how much air remains after exhalation.
Chest X-Rays and CT Scans
If the results of the pulmonary function test prove conclusive toward symptoms of COPD, doctors will use medical imaging to confirm the diagnosis. A chest x-ray is often performed to see if the lungs have become enlarged because of excess air or if there are structural changes in the lungs. However, diagnosing emphysema cannot be done with a chest x-ray alone. Chest CT scans are also used to diagnose COPD because they can show pockets of air in the lungs which are symptomatic of damage from COPD. All of these procedures are completely painless and require no invasive surgery and yet still provide accurate details and diagnosis.