How Do CT Machines Create Images?

If you are considering having a CT procedure performed, you are likely wondering how this machine can create the images that your radiologist will review. Medical imaging is a field of medicine that is continuously changing and making better innovations and discoveries. But for the patient, trying to understand these innovations and technologies can be difficult. The key to having the best medical experience for both doctor and patient is gaining information and finding treatment. When the patient understands fully the procedures that they will be undergoing, they will have less anxiety and allow for the doctor to perform his duty to the best of their ability.

A CT scan, or computed tomography, is a medical imaging procedure that uses computer technology in combination with X-ray capabilities in order to create images. A CT machine looks like a large donut with a portal through the middle. When you have this procedure performed, you will lie on the exam table on your back and be slowly moved through the portal. From this point, you may hear a whirring sound and see the machine spinning around you. This is because CT machines are now formatted with a helical or spiral mechanism that creates the cross-sectional images your radiologist will view. CT machines use thin beams of radiation to view the internal structures which are absorbed on the other side of the portal. The information gained is then submitted into a computer that calculates the images into sections or layers. That way doctors can see throughout an organ or cavity instead of just on top of it.

For some CT scans, your doctor may recommend using contrast material. Contrast material is common in CT scans and allows for certain structures or masses to become clearer in images. Contrast material can be administered through an IV or by mouth. If you have kidney problems, let your doctor know because contrast material can occasionally affect the kidneys in some patients.  If you have radiation concerns, know that most of the newer CT scanners are of the helical fashion and use significantly less radiation than traditional scanners.

These machines are extremely important to physicians for the diagnosis of diseases and determining treatment options. If you have other concerns or questions, speak to your physician or radiologist about your options with medical imaging procedures.

Looking for a CT Scan in the New Orleans or Metairie, LA area? Schedule your appointment with Doctors Imaging by calling 504-883-8111 or using our online appointment form.

What is it like to be in an MRI Machine?

An MRI machine is a fascinating piece of medical imaging equipment. MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is an instrument that doctors use every day to help diagnose and treat a number of illnesses and conditions. But for those that have never had an MRI scan performed, the machinery can seem a tad daunting. But relax and read through, and you’ll see that there is nothing to fear.

In essence, a MRI machine is a giant magnet. The magnet uses radio signals to create the images that doctors and technicians will use to make medical decisions and consider diagnostic options.

To begin, a technologist will ask that you remove your clothing and use the provided gown to cover yourself. You must remove any jewelry, piercings or electronic devices from your person. These materials can seriously aggravate the machine and distort your results. If you have surgical implants or any type of shrapnel or metal within the body, be sure to make your doctor aware of these details. Also if you are pregnant or think that you may be pregnant, let the doctor know before the test is performed.

Once you are properly attired to have the MRI performed, you will be asked to lie down on your back on the MRI table. Then the table will begin moving you into the chamber, usually feet-first. While in the chamber, you will hear some loud noises such as banging and whirring sounds. These noises should not alarm you, as they are just the machinations of the MRI. The most important aspect of the scan for the patient is to remain very still. Each section of the examined area will take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. The patient must remain as still as possible for these interludes as even the slightest movement can distort the image and make the procedure take longer. Doctors Imaging now has software the minimizes motion problems. The exam can take anywhere from an 20 minutes to an hour depending on what needs to be examined and what is found.

If you are claustrophobic or extremely nervous about the exam, ask your doctor if you can be provided with a light sedative to calm your nerves. For some MRI scans, the doctor may ask that contrast be used. Contrast is a material that doctors will administer either through an IV or by mouth so that key areas like tumors and blockages can be highlighted for easier diagnosis. If you have kidney function problems, be sure make your doctor aware before taking contrast. MRIs do not use any radiation so they are safe and relatively painless.

If you other questions or concerns, let your doctor or technician know before the exam. The key to remaining healthy is to have the best imaging results and the most information available as possible.

If you’re looking to get your first MRI in the Metairie or New Orleans area, come to Doctors Imaging, where we’re concerned about quality patient care. You can schedule your MRI appointment online or via phone at 504-883-8111.