Understand These Common Health Screenings for Women

The leading cause of death for women is cancer, with heart disease following behind. (Source: CDC). So it makes sense that the most common screening tests are focused on finding these diseases at early stages when they are most treatable.

Screening examinations are tests performed to find disease before symptoms begin. Regular imaging procedures of areas like the chest and internal organs can help determine the presence of tumors or cancerous cells as well as many cardiac problems.

CT Scans for Heart and Lung Screenings

Ordering a CT scan of the chest and pelvic regions can be beneficial for determining the prevalence of many health risks that commonly affect women.

CT scans are the preferable method in examining the chest for tumors and cardiovascular deficiencies. For example, if there is a prevalence of lung disease in your family or if you have been a smoker, a CT scan can be extremely effective in determining if you are at risk. For some current and ex-smokers, a low-dose CT lung cancer screening, is a life-saving screening tool. It can be performed at Doctors Imaging for only $99. Another common CT scan, a Calcium Scoring screening, helps assess your heart health.

Ultrasounds Help Screen for Circulatory and Vascular Health

Your doctor may order ultrasound exams to look for cancerous tumors or to assess your circulatory and vascular health. Circulatory and vascular problems are associated with coronary artery disease, heart attack or stroke, but these conditions may be avoided with the right treatments. Common purposes for ultrasound exams for women include breast care, pelvic, pregnancy, and transvaginal exams fr sexual health. Other exams look for DVT, pulmonary embolisms, and thyroid disorders.

MRIs Work Without Radiation

MRI procedures are not routine but may be recommended for women with different types of health problems. Because MRI does not use radiation, it can often be a substitute for procedures that were historically performed on CT machines. MRIs can offer more detailed images of the spine and provide better images of the structures in the body that other procedures cannot. The larger tissue systems of the body can also be examined thoroughly with an MRI. With an MRI procedure, blockages in the heart and vascular systems can be determined as well as the presence and location of tumors. Because MRIs do not utilize radiation, they can also help examine the condition of reproductive organs. MRI of the breast may be used for women at high risk for breast cancer, typically because of a strong family history of the disease.

Learn More About Health Screenings

About Pelvic and Abdominal CT Scans by RadiologyInfo.org

Common Ultrasound Exams for Women’s Health

Technician uses handheld ultrasound device
Most women are familiar with ultrasounds for supplemental breast cancer screenings and pregnancy imaging, but what are the other occasions when a physician might order an ultrasound exam for women? Learn more about the life-saving capabilities these ultrasound exams provide.

How Ultrasounds Work

Ultrasounds use a combination of sound waves and computer technology to create internal images that doctors and patients seek. Ultrasounds are often used as a preliminary method of imaging. This means that when doctors suspect a problem and think that it is an area that the ultrasound will be able to view, they will use this method first because ultrasounds aren’t invasive or have side effects. Ultrasounds examine the internal organs, tissues and blood flow throughout the body, determining the blood flow through the heart, imaging breast tissue and guiding biopsy needles.

Almost any part of the body can undergo an ultrasound exam which makes it a faithful go-to for doctors.

These Are the Ultrasound Exams Many Women Receive

BREAST CARE: Ultrasound of the breast may be used for women who are at high risk for breast cancer or women who are pregnant and should not be exposed to x-rays used in a mammogram. Ultrasound of the breast can also be used to screen women who have dense breast tissue, meaning there are a lot of ducts, glands, fibrous tissue and less fat making it harder to find cancers with a mammogram.

HEART HEALTH: A major benefit that ultrasounds can provide for women is helping women determine their possibility of heart attack or stroke. Both of these conditions occur when the blood flow to the brain or heart is blocked. By using ultrasound technology, doctors can hear problems like weak valves, blockages, and murmurs. Heart disease is the leading cause of death around the world and the highest killer of women around the world. The best way to combat this statistic, besides better health, diet, and exercise, is to have regularly scheduled check-ups with your primary care physician. As you get older, your doctor will likely recommend several kinds of tests to determine your cardiac health, so don’t forget to sign up for a cardiac ultrasound. The ability to see movement via ultrasound is particularly beneficial for those women concerned with their cardiac health as the movement of blood will be the biggest indicator of that problem.

PELVIC: In women, a pelvic ultrasound is most often performed to evaluate these parts of the body:

  • uterus
  • cervix
  • ovaries
  • bladder

Ultrasound examinations can help diagnose symptoms experienced by women such as:

  • pelvic pain
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • other menstrual problems

Ultrasound exams also help identify:

  • palpable masses such as ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids
  • ovarian or uterine cancers

PREGNANCY: Ultrasounds are the best form of medical imaging for expectant mothers because ultrasounds are non-invasive and do not have the concern of radiation. Mothers can see their baby’s outline, hear their heartbeat and determine their child’s health.

TRANSVAGINAL: These exams go across or through the vagina (the genital canal in the female, extending from the uterus to the vulva). A transvaginal ultrasound is usually performed to view the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and the ovaries. Transvaginal ultrasound also evaluates the myometrium (muscular walls of the uterus). Sonohysterography allows for a more in-depth investigation of the uterine cavity. These exams are typically performed to detect:

  • uterine anomalies
  • uterine scars
  • endometrial polyps
  • fibroids
  • cancer, especially in patients with abnormal uterine bleeding

Learn More About Ultrasound Exams