Medical Imaging

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Scan

The aorta is the major artery responsible for carrying blood away from the heart. The aorta has many branches, including arteries that carry blood to the kidneys and legs.

Ultrasound is a type of imaging test used to look at the abdominal aorta and its branches. One of the most serious conditions to look for is an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). An AAA is caused when the lining in the wall of the aorta becomes weak, resulting in an abnormal ballooning or enlargement. An AAA occurs in the abdominal portion of the aorta and is the most fatal form of vascular disease.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm scan is completely safe and painless.

How to prepare for the test

This test requires special preparation. You should not eat or drink anything (except medications) for 4 hours prior to the test. our physician will give you any additional instructions on how to prepare for the test.

What to expect during the test

  • You may be asked to remove some clothing and change into a gown.
  • You will lie on your back while a technologist places a sensor on several areas of your abdomen. The sensor will have a small amount of cool gel on the end. The gel helps produce clearer pictures. It will not harm your skin.
  • The only discomfort you may feel is the coolness from the gel or slight pressure from the sensor as it moves along your body.
  • You may hear swooshing sounds during the test. These are sound waves.

What to expect after the test

  • A vascular surgeon will look at your scan for any blockages or abnormalities in your aorta.
  • If your scan results are normal, you may resume your regular activities immediately following the scan.
  • If your results are abnormal, your physician will be contacted immediately and you may be admitted to the hospital for further tests or treatment.
  • Results from your scan will be prepared by the vascular surgeon, and a report will be sent to your primary care physician.

Bone densitometry (DEXA)

Bone densitometry, also known as bone density scanning, uses an advanced technology called DEXA (short for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) to safely, accurately and painlessly measure bone mineral density for the purpose of diagnosing osteoporosis. During a comprehensive examination with DEXA, the patient lies comfortably still on a padded table while the DEXA unit scans two or more areas, usually the fracture-prone hip and spine. Unlike typical X-ray machines, radiation exposure during bone densitometry is extremely low – less than the radiation exposure during a coast-to-coast airline flight. The entire process takes only minutes to complete, depending on the number of sites scanned. It involves no injections or invasive procedures, and patients remain fully clothed.
Norton Healthcare locations offering bone density scanning:

Cardiac Nuclear Imaging

Cardiac nuclear imaging allows your physician to check the blood flow through muscle tissue in your heart. To track the blood flow, a small amount of tracer fluid is injected through a vein in your arm. A camera then scans the tracer material in the blood as it flows through your circulatory system. The test, conducted before and during exercise, shows your doctor what part of your heart is not getting sufficient blood flow or the extent of damage to your heart following a heart attack.
What to expect during this test or treatment
  • You will be asked to undress from the waist up and change into a gown.
  • A technologist will place several small adhesive electrodes on your chest. These electrodes are connected by thin wires to a heart monitor that records your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
  • You will lie on a table in the procedure room and be positioned under a large camera.
  • A tracer material will then be injected through an IV line that will be inserted in a vein in your arm. This tracer material is used so that the camera can take pictures of your blood as it travels through your heart.
  • It is important that you lie very still while the camera is working because movement can affect image quality.
  • To see how your heart reacts to physical activity, the technologist will have you exercise on a treadmill or bicycle for a period of time. Additional pictures will be taken after the exercise. If you are unable to exercise, you may be given medication to increase your heart rate.
  • Once the images are obtained, the IV will be removed and you will be free to leave unless directed otherwise.
  • What to expect after this test or treatment
  • You should not feel any discomfort. However, you may feel tired from the exercise.
  • If you have sensitive skin, you may have a slight irritation from the electrode patches.
  • Your images will be interpreted by a nuclear medicine physician, who will search for abnormal heart function or disease and make a diagnosis.
  • Your physician will schedule a time to meet with you to discuss the results of the test.
Returning home
If you have any questions about your care after you return home, call your physician’s office. 
This test or treatment is offered at these facilities:

Computed Tomography Scan

Computed tomography, also called a CT or CAT scan, can help your physician diagnose a muscle or bone disorder, or find a tumor, infection, blood clot, internal injuries or bleeding. In some cases, your doctor may even use a CT scan to guide procedures such as surgery, biopsy or radiation therapy.

During a CT scan, special X-ray equipment takes pictures of the inside of your body from different angles. A computer then combines these pictures to form detailed, three-dimensional (3-D) views of the area of your body being examined.

What to expect during the test

  • Your technologist will take you to a special room where the pictures will be taken, and you will be asked to change into a gown.
  • For most types of CT scans, you will be given a special dye, called contrast, so that the area of your body being scanned will show up clearer in the pictures. In most cases, an IV needle will be placed in a vein in your arm, where the contrast will be injected. You may be given an oral contrast to drink or by enema.
  • Taking the contrast usually takes 15 to 60 minutes or longer, depending on the body part being scanned.
  • You may briefly feel a warm sensation as the contrast begins to circulate into your body.
  • You will lie on a special scanning table with your arms by your side or over your head. You must lie very still during the test so that the pictures are not blurry or unclear.
  • The table is attached to a large donut-shaped scanner. The table will move inside this scanner where the pictures will be taken.
  • Your technologist will operate the scanning machine from another room and will talk to you through an intercom system.
  • The test itself only lasts about 15 minutes, but you will need to stay for a brief time afterward so your technologist can be sure the pictures are clear and do not need to be retaken.

 What to expect after the test

  • After the technologist checks your pictures, your IV will be removed and you will be free to leave.
  • You may resume your normal activities immediately unless directed otherwise.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help flush the contrast material out of your system.
  • A radiologist will review the images and send a report to your doctor.
  • Your doctor will schedule a time to discuss the results with you.

 Norton Healthcare locations offering CT:

 Low-dose CT lung screenings are performed at all locations except Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Medical Center.

Computed Tomography Angiography

Computed tomography angiography (CTA) is a test that uses X-rays to look at blood flow in arteries and veins throughout the body.

During a CTA scan, special X-ray equipment takes pictures of the inside of your body from different angles. A computer then combines these pictures to form detailed, three-dimensional (3-D) views of the area of your body being examined. A CTA is less invasive than catheter angiography because it uses contrast dye in place of a catheter.

What to expect during the test

  • Your technologist will take you to a special room where the pictures will be taken, and you will be asked to change into a gown.
  • You will be given a special dye, called contrast, so that the area of your body being examined will show up clearer in the pictures. In most cases, an IV needle will be placed in a vein in your arm, where the contrast will be injected.
  • Taking the contrast usually takes 15 to 60 minutes or longer, depending on the body part being scanned.
  • You may briefly feel a warm sensation as the contrast begins to circulate into your body.
  • You will lie on a special scanning table with your arms by your side or over your head. You must lie very still during the test so that the pictures are not blurry or unclear.
  • The table is attached to a large donut-shaped scanner. The table will move inside this scanner where the pictures will be taken.
  • Your technologist will operate the scanning machine from another room and will talk to you through an intercom system.
  • The test itself only lasts about 15 minutes, but you will need to stay for a brief time afterward so your technologist can be sure the pictures are clear and do not need to be retaken.

What to expect after the test

  • After the technologist checks your pictures, your IV will be removed and you will be free to leave.
  • You may resume your normal activities immediately, unless directed otherwise.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help flush the contrast material out of your system.
  • A radiologist will review the images and send a report to your doctor.
  • Your doctor will schedule a time to discuss the results with you.

 Norton Healthcare locations offering CTA:

Coronary Calcium Scan

A coronary calcium scan measures calcium deposits in coronary arteries. Coronary calcification is a highly sensitive marker for the presence of coronary atherosclerosis, even before symptoms develop. More coronary calcium means more atherosclerosis, suggesting a greater risk for cardiovascular events. A computed tomography (CT) scan is the most effective method for detecting coronary calcium.

Potential coronary calcium scan patients meet the following criteria:
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Past or present smoker
  • Men age 45+, women age 55+
  • History of high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Overweight
  • Inactive lifestyle
About the scan
The CT scan lasts about 20 seconds. No preparation is needed. Three leads to an EKG monitor are placed on the chest. The high-speed CT scan captures multiple images that are then read by a radiologist for the presence of calcification in the coronary arteries.
Interpretation of results
If calcium is present, the computer will create a calcium score that estimates the extent of coronary artery disease. A score of 101 to 400 can be a cause for concern depending on the patient’s medical history. A score over 400 is a sign of heart disease, and the patient should be referred to a cardiologist. You and your patient will receive a full report outlining the results of the scan and follow-up recommendations.
Insurance and referrals
Because a coronary calcium scan is a screening examination, it is not covered by most insurance companies or Medicare. The patient is responsible for all costs at the time of the exam. The cost is $165 and includes all lab, technical, medical and professional interpretation charges.
Self-referrals are accepted. A physician’s order is not required. 
Coronary calcium scans are available at Norton Audubon Hospital.

Fluoroscopy

Fluoroscopy uses a continuous low-intensity X-ray beam to produce moving pictures of the part of the body being examined. These pictures show up on a video screen, much like a live X-ray movie. For example, fluoroscopy can show your doctor how blood is flowing through your arteries or the way food is traveling through your digestive system. Sometimes, fluoroscopy is used to help position a catheter or needle for a procedure, assist in realigning a broken bone, evaluate the urinary tract or study the way joints move.

What to expect during the test

  • Your technologist will take you to a special room where the pictures will be taken, and you will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • Your technologist will position you as comfortably as possible on the X-ray table.
  • An IV needle may be inserted into a vein in your arm. A special dye, called contrast, may be injected into the IV needle so that the area being examined can be seen in greater detail. In some cases, this contrast material is given by mouth instead of through an IV needle.
  • You may briefly feel a warm sensation as the contrast material begins to circulate into your body.
  • Some procedures, such as a cardiac catheterization or catheter placement, require an additional IV needle may be inserted in your groin, elbow or other area.
  • A special X-ray scanner will be used to produce moving pictures of the area being examined by sending a low beam X-ray through your body to a fluorescent plate on the other side.
  • You will not experience any discomfort from the test. However, you might find it uncomfortable to lie still during the test, especially if you have had an injury.

 What to expect after the test

  • Depending on the type of exam or procedure you had, you may need to stay at the hospital for several hours. An overnight stay usually is not required.
  • If you had a digestive tract fluoroscopy, the contrast will cause you to have a whitish stool for several days.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help flush the dye from your system.
  • If you had a procedure that requires a catheter insertion, you might experience some soreness, redness and bruising where the catheter needle was inserted.
  • A radiologist will look at the results of your test and send a complete report to your doctor within one to two days.
  • Your doctor will schedule a time to discuss the results with you.

Norton Healthcare locations offering fluoroscopy:

Intravenous Pyelography

Intravenous pyelography (IVP) allows your doctor to detect problems resulting from kidney stones, an enlarged prostate, tumors and other abnormal conditions.

IVP uses a special dye, called contrast, and a sequence of X-ray pictures to show your doctor how your kidneys and urinary system are working. The contrast is injected through a needle placed in a vein in your arm. As the contrast circulates through your body, it outlines your kidneys, bladder and other urinary structures so they will show up clearly in the pictures.

What to expect during the test

  • Your technologist will take you to a special room where the pictures will be taken, and you will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • You will be positioned on a large X-ray table, and a series of X-rays will be taken of your urinary system.
  • An IV needle will then be inserted into a vein in your arm, and a contrast material containing iodine will be injected through the IV.
  • You may feel a sting or a warm feeling as the contrast begins to circulate into your body. These feelings are normal and should only last for a few minutes.
  • A second series of X-rays will be taken after the contrast has been injected.
  • You may be asked to turn from side to side and to hold different positions during your test.
  • Near the end of the test, you may be asked to empty your bladder before the final pictures are taken.
  • A typical IVP usually lasts about one hour but can range from 30 minutes to three to four hours depending on how quickly your kidneys empty.

 What to expect after the test

  • You may resume normal activities immediately.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help flush the contrast material from your system.
  • A radiologist will analyze the test results and send a report to your doctor.
  • Your doctor will schedule a time to discuss the results with you.

Norton Healthcare locations offering IVP:

Magnetic Resonance Angiography

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), a type of MRI scan, uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to create pictures of blood vessels. During an MRA, blood flow and blood vessel walls can be seen. Contrast dye may be used to make blood vessels more visible. MRA can detect issues with the blood vessels that may be causing reduced blood flow.

In many cases, MRA can provide more information than a computed tomography (CT) scan, X-ray or ultrasound.

What to expect during the test

  • You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and take off all metal items, including rings, watches, earrings, necklaces, glasses and belts.
  • Your technologist will take you to a special room where the pictures will be taken.
  • Depending on which parts of your body are being scanned, an IV needle may be inserted into a vein in your arm, and contrast will be injected through the IV.
  • You may briefly feel a cool sensation and/or a metallic taste in your mouth as the contrast begins to circulate into your body.
  • The large magnet that takes the pictures during the test is inside a special machine that looks like a big box with a hole in the middle. You will be comfortably positioned on a padded table that slides in and out of the machine. Depending on which part of your body is being scanned, you may enter the magnet head first or feet first.
  • You will be given earplugs to wear because the MRI makes a loud knocking sound. This sound means the pictures are being taken.
  • If you are claustrophobic you may be given medication that has been ordered by your physician. You will need your prescription filled in your pharmacy prior to your appointment. The MRI technologist is not able to administer any type of medication.
  • At all times during the test, you and your technologist will be able to talk to one another through an intercom system.
  • It is important that you stay very still while the MRI technologist is taking the pictures. Movement can make the images look blurry and unclear. Sometimes, several sets of images need to be taken. If this is the case, you may be allowed to move a bit between each set, but your technologist will tell you what parts of your body you can or cannot move and when.

What to expect after the test

  • You may be asked to remain on the table while the technologist looks at the pictures. If they look good, you will be free to leave.
  • You may resume all of your normal activities immediately after the test.
  • A radiologist will review the pictures and send a report to your doctor within a few days.
  • Your doctor will schedule a time to discuss the results with you.

Norton Healthcare locations offering MRA:

Mammograms

Norton Healthcare offers screening mammograms and Tomosynthesis (Tomo) / 3-D mammograms. A screening mammogram is a routine test to find any tumors that cannot be felt.

A Tomo may be more effective than a regular mammogram for women with dense breast tissue or women who are at high risk for breast cancer.

Learn more

Myelography

Myelography is a special X-ray of your spinal cord, spinal canal and the areas around these structures. A myelogram can identify abnormalities of the spinal cord, spinal canal and spinal nerves. Your doctor might order this test when other imaging procedures, such as a CT scan or MRI, have not given enough information for an accurate diagnosis. A special dye, called contrast, is injected into your spinal canal through a needle so that the area being tested will show up more clearly on the X-rays.

What to expect during the test

  • Before the test, you will receive some medicine to help you relax, but you will be awake for the test.
  • You should empty your bladder so you will be comfortable during your test.
  • Your technologist will take you to a special room where the pictures will be taken.
  • Your nurse may start an IV if the radiologist or physician performing the test thinks medication may need to be given.
  • Your technologist will position you on your stomach on a special table that can be tilted up and down as necessary during your myelogram.
  • Depending on the area of your spine being studied, your technologist will clean your lower back or neck with a sterile iodine solution.
  • The physician will then inject a numbing medication into your neck or back with a small needle.
  • Your radiologist will carefully place a needle into your spinal canal using X-ray guidance.
  • The contrast will then be injected through the needle, and a series of X-rays will be taken.
  • During the test, the table will tilt up and down to move the contrast through your body to different areas of the spinal canal.
  • During or after the test, you may experience a headache, nausea or mild discomfort. If needed, you will be given medication to help relieve these symptoms.
  • The myelogram usually takes 30 to 90 minutes to complete.

What to expect after the test

  • After your test, you will be taken to a comfortable room to recover.
  • The head of your bed will be raised to relieve any headache pain and to keep you from feeling dizzy or faint.
  • You will remain in the recovery room for three to four hours, and then you will be free to go home.
  • The radiologist will review the test results and send a complete report to your doctor.
  • Your doctor will schedule a time to discuss the results with you.

Norton Healthcare locations offering myelography:

Nuclear Imaging

Cardiac nuclear imaging allows your physician to check the blood flow thorough muscle in your heart. To track the blood flow, a small amount of tracer fluid, which acts like a dye, is injected through a vein in your arm. A camera then scans the tracer material in the blood as it flows through your circulatory system. The test, conducted before and during exercise, shows your doctor how blood is flowing in or out of your heart, as well as damage to your heart following a heart attack.

What to expect during the test

  • You will be asked to undress from the waist up and change into a gown.
  • A technologist will place several small, adhesive electrodes on your chest. These electrodes are connected by thin wires to a heart monitor that records your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
  • You will lie on a table in the procedure room under a large camera.
  • A tracer material will then be injected through an IV in a vein in your arm. This tracer material will show your blood as it travels through your heart.
  • It is important that you lie very still while the camera is working because movement can affect image quality.
  • To see how your heart acts when you are physically active, the technologist will have you get on on a treadmill or bicycle for a period of time. Additional pictures will be taken after you exercise. If you are unable to exercise, you may be given medication to increase your heart rate.
  • Once the images are taken, the IV will be removed and you will be free to leave unless directed otherwise.

What to expect after the test

  • You should not feel any discomfort. However, you may feel tired from the exercise.
  • If you have sensitive skin, you may have some irritation from the electrode patches.
  • Your images will be reviewed by a nuclear medicine physician.
  • Your physician will schedule a time to meet with you to discuss the results of the test.

 This test is offered at these facilities:

PET/CT Imaging

Positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) are powerful imaging techniques that hold great promise in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases, particularly cancer. Combined PET/CT is a noninvasive technique that accurately images metabolic and anatomic information in the human body in a single scan. This allows physicians to examine the entire body at the same time. A PET/CT scan provides a more complete picture, making it easier for physicians to diagnose conditions, determine the extent of disease, prescribe treatment and track progress.
Norton Healthcare locations offering PET/CT imaging:
  • Norton Hospital
  • Norton Diagnostic Center – Dupont

Ultrasound Imaging

Ultrasound is a safe, noninvasive and usually painless procedure that uses sound waves to view the body’s organs. A warm gel is applied to the skin above the organ(s) to be scanned. This gel helps the hand-held transducer detect sound waves and display the images.

What to expect during the test

  • Your technologist will take you to a special room where the pictures will be taken, and you will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • Your technologist will position you on a padded table.
  • The technologist will put a cool gel on the area of your body that will be scanned. This gel helps transmit the sound waves.
  • A small, hand-held rolling device called a transducer will be placed on the areas of your skin where the gel has been applied.
  • The transducer changes the sound waves into moving pictures that show up on the TV screen.
  • You should not feel any discomfort during your ultrasound. When the test is over, the gel will be wiped off.
  • Your ultrasound may take as little as 30 minutes or as long as two hours, depending on the organs being examined.

 What to expect after the test

  • You may resume all normal activities immediately.
  • A radiologist will review the results and send a report to your doctor.
  • Your doctor will schedule a time to discuss the results with you.

 Norton Healthcare locations offering ultrasound:

X-ray

Digital X-rays of the chest, abdomen, spine, legs or arms provide greater detail and less radiation exposure than standard X-rays. X-ray imaging is painless, and you won’t feel anything. Your only discomfort might result from lying on the table or maintaining an uncomfortable position for a short period of time.

What to expect during the test

  • Your technologist will take you to a special room where your X-ray will be taken.
  • You may be asked to change into a gown and you will need to remove jewelry, eyeglasses and any other metal objects that could show up in the picture.
  • Before taking the picture, your technologist may cover certain areas of your body with a lead apron to keep them from being exposed to the X-rays.
  • The technologist will either place you on an examination table or ask you to stand upright in a certain position, possibly using a pillow, sandbag or other device to help you hold the proper position.
  • The technologist will place a film holder next to the area of your body to be X-rayed.
  • You will then be asked to remain very still and hold your breath for a few seconds while the picture is taken. This process might be repeated several times.

 What to expect after the test

  • After your X-rays are taken, you will be asked to wait in the exam room while the technologist checks the pictures for quality.
  • A radiologist will review the images and send a report to your doctor, who will then discuss the results with you.
  • You may resume all normal activities immediately.

No appointment is necessary at the following Norton Healthcare diagnostic imaging locations. You will need to bring a written doctor’s order for the X-rays and your insurance card.

Norton Healthcare locations offering X-ray:

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