How Invasive are Medical Imaging Procedures?

The innovations made within the medical technology field have taken away a vast amount of risk and pain done during these procedures, but sometimes in order to get the best images so that your doctor can make the most informed diagnosis possible requires a bit of discomfort. Depending on the concern or condition, there are a variety of medical imaging procedures that can be performed with various degrees of invasiveness. Luckily most of these procedures do not take long and if you have serious concerns or a condition that would make performing these procedures unbearably painful, you should speak to your doctor about different options and features that can still be performed. For this article, the procedures will be ordered from least to most invasive.

X-Ray

X-rays are painless and not invasive at all. The joints and bone structures of the body are imaged while the patient remains still on the procedure table. If a patient is pregnant or may be pregnant, they should inform their doctor. The radiation used in X-rays is an extremely small amount and a lead shield can protect the fetus if the test is medically necessary, but there may be other avenues of imaging that your doctor can perform instead.

PET-CT Scan

For these scans, your facility or doctor may request that you not eat anything for four hours prior to the exam and drink a lot of water. Contrast material is also used in this procedure. Contrast material will be administered intravenously and will require that the patient remain still for 30-90 minutes so that the contrast material has opportunity to circulate.

MRI Procedure

MRI is extremely low in its degree of invasiveness. Despite the slight prick of IV administration of contrast fluid, some patients experience a sense of claustrophobia entering the MRI machine. If this an issue for you, speak to your doctor about having a friend or family member in the procedure room with you or for more serious cases, your doctor may be able to provide you with a mild sedative.

CT Scans

CT scans are a painless procedure. Some doctors may require patients to not eat at least an hour prior to the examination. Contrast material is also used in CT scans and can be administered either through IV or by swallowing. Some describe a metallic taste in the mouth, or slight itchiness around the injection site. If a patient experiences more serious symptoms, it could be indicative of an allergic reaction or a type of condition that reactions to the contrast fluid.

Ultrasounds

Depending on the area or conditioned being examined, an ultrasounds procedure has varying degrees of invasiveness. None are particularly painful just slightly uncomfortable. Speaking with your doctor about your concerns can help to minimize the unpleasantness. And for determining and monitoring pregnancy, detecting signs of infertility or for examining reproductive organs, some patients may have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound in which the transducer is placed in the vagina to image organs like the uterus and ovaries.

On the whole, imaging procedures performed today are minimally or non-invasive. If you’re looking for safe and comfortable imaging procedures in the New Orleans, Metairie, or Kenner area, please call 504-883-8111 or schedule your appointment online today.

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