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Medical imaging

It can be unsettling when you don’t physically feel like your normal self. Tests to rule out a major illness or a swift diagnosis to get you started on a treatment plan are important steps to get you back on the path to feeling better. That is where exceptional medical imaging makes a big difference.


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What it is

Bone density or DXA scans are used for the diagnosis of bone disease including osteoporosis.

CT scans allows doctors to simultaneously capture multiple images in a matter of minutes. This advanced technology not only means more diagnostic information for doctors, but its speed can also save precious exam time in the emergency department.

Digital mammography uses equipment that can screen for breast cancer and lumps that are too small to be felt. Learn more about mammography.

Fluoroscopy is a technique for obtaining “live” x-ray images. It is often used to observe the digestive tract or can be used during diagnostic and therapeutic radiological procedures.

Exams that are done using fluoroscopy allow the radiologist to visualize the motion of internal structures and fluids. Using a variety of contrast materials (liquids that are visible with x-ray) that include barium and iodinated compounds; health care professionals can obtain images of the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, colon, kidneys and spinal canal.

Interventional radiology is one of the most complex and patient-care oriented fields in radiology and uses image-guided, minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment techniques that are often an alternative to surgery.

Interventional radiology is often used to diagnose and treat conditions in the blood vessels and is essential for endovascular (non-surgical) interventions such as angioplasty, stent placement, embolization and related procedures. It is also used to treat uterine fibroids, liver disease, tumors and peripheral vascular disease.

Interventional radiologists treat diseases nonoperatively, often using small catheters or other devices and tools guided by radiologic imaging. Procedures performed by interventional radiologists are generally less costly and are less traumatic to the patient, involving smaller incisions, less pain, and shorter hospital stays.

MRIs use magnetism, radio waves, and computers to produce detailed images of the head, spine, heart, glands and organs within the abdomen, joints, soft tissues and bones.

Nuclear medicine produces a physiologic image of specific body processes and can be used to assist in the diagnosis of conditions found in the bones, gall bladder, kidney or thyroid. In addition, many nuclear scans are conducted for cardiac testing to assess the blood flow to heart muscles and to look for the presence of blocked arteries.

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a diagnostic, imaging procedure that provides physicians with information about the body's chemistry, cell function and location of disease—information not seen through CT, MRI, X-ray, blood test or physical examination.

Unlike CT or MRI, which look at anatomy or body structure, PET studies body function or the biology of diseases.

Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from the space between the lining of the outside of the lungs (pleura) and the wall of the chest.

Ultrasound is a safe and painless test using sound waves to get an image of different areas inside your body. Images of the area of the body being looked at with the ultrasound equipment show up on a TV-like screen. Learn more under Ultrasound.

X-rays encompass many different types of exams such as bone imaging, chest x-rays, abdomen films, fluoroscopy and studies using contrast agents (liquids that are visible with x-ray).

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Source: Mercy & Unity Hospitals, Medical Imaging
Reviewed by: Kathleen Inveen, director, radiology

First published: 3/7/2017
Last reviewed: 2/22/2017