If your doctor requests an advanced imaging scan to aid in making a diagnosis, two of the most common tests requested are the CT Scan and MRI. Let’s take a look at how each of these tests show cross-sectional pictures of the body using different techniques.
CT stands for computerized tomography. This scan uses multiple x-rays that are taken at different angles in order to produce a cross-sectional image.
MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. Here a combination of magnetic fields and radio frequencies are used, so the MRI scanner can generate a 3D image of the part of the body being examined.
Both of these techniques can be used to examine the same parts of the body, and the choice of which one should be used is based on the possible diagnosis. In general, CT scans are used for diagnosing serious injuries to the head, chest, spine, abdomen, and pelvis, and are helpful when trying to determine if fractures are involved. In contrast, the MRI does a better job of diagnosing issues in joints, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissues. MRIs are often used to scan the brain, spine, neck, breast, abdomen, and muscles.
Differences between a CT Scan and MRI
- Radiation – CT scans use X-ray technology so minimal radiation exposure is present. CT scans are not usually used during pregnancy for this reason. MRI’s do not involve radiation.
- Cost – CT scans are usually less expensive than MRI tests.
- Time for Procedure – CT scans are done fairly quickly. Most CT scans take around 5 minutes to complete. MRI’s can range from 15 minutes to 2 hours depending on the part of the body that is being examined.
- Patient comfort – CT scans are done in an open machine so concerns about being in a small space are rarely an issue. MRI’s are traditionally done in a narrow tube, and can sometimes cause anxiety. Hampton Roads Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine has an open MRI machine to help with concerns about anxiety if MRI is the best choice for the diagnosis.
- Limitations – The table used in CT scans accommodate approximately 300 pounds, so if a larger table is required, a patient may need to go to a facility with appropriate equipment. MRI machines with the conventional tube design may also have limitations based on the size of the patient. Open MRI machines would be an alternative option. In addition, MRI machines utilize magnetic fields during the scan so patients with certain metal objects implanted in the body (e.g. pacemakers, rods, some prosthetic joints, and even certain tattoos) may prevent the use of MRI tests.
Your doctor will discuss the type of test that they are considering to make the diagnosis. If you have any questions or concerns please share that with your specialist. Schedule an appointment at one of our seven locations!
What is bone density testing?
Bone density testing—also known as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA)—uses x-ray images to assess bone mineral density (BMD). The absorption of dual x-ray beams by a patient’s bone is measured to determine the overall strength of the bone and the risk of fracture. The test is typically performed on the lower spine and hips.
What does bone density testing discover?
A bone density test is currently the only way to diagnose osteoporosis, a disease characterized by decreased bone density and quality. Osteoporosis and low bone density (osteopenia) increase the risk of bone fracture. Therefore, DEXA can be used to:
- Diagnose osteoporosis, either before or after a bone fracture
- Identify decreased bone density before you break a bone
- Assess your risk of bone fractures
- Monitor the success of osteoporosis treatment
When is bone density testing recommended?
Your healthcare provider will conduct a thorough health assessment to determine if you’re at risk for osteoporosis or decreased bone density. A bone density test may be considered if:
- Further bone testing is recommended based on the results of a screening test such as a peripheral dual x-ray absorptiometry (pDXA), quantitative ultrasound (QUS), or peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT)
- You’ve lost height of at least ½ inch within a year
- You’ve lost a total height of 1 ½ inches
- You’ve had a break or bone loss in your spine
- You are a woman aged 65 or older
- You are a man aged 70 or older
- You break a bone after age 50
- You are a post-menopausal woman not taking estrogen
- You have risk factors such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, type 1 diabetes, or a thyroid condition
- You use medications that can cause bone loss, such as corticosteroids, anti-seizure medications, or high-dose thyroid replacement medications
How is bone density testing conducted?
Bone density tests are fast, easy, and noninvasive outpatient procedures. You will lay on a padded table while a mechanical imaging device passes over your body. You will be asked to stay still and perhaps hold your breath for a few seconds to ensure a clear image. The amount of radiation you’re exposed to is very small.
How are bone density test results interpreted?
Bone density test results are reported in T-scores and Z-scores:
Your T-score measures your bone mass compared to the bone mass of a healthy young adult of your gender.
- -1 and above: Normal bone density
- Between -1.1 and -2.5: Osteopenia (low bone density)
- -2.5 and below: Osteoporosis
Your Z-score measures your bone mass compared to healthy adults of your age, gender, weight, and ethnicity. If your score is significantly higher or lower than normal, you may need further medical tests.
If you meet any of the above mentioned recommendations for considering bone density testing, give Peninsula Radiology a call at (757) 898-8830. We’d love to help!
Peninsula Radiology offers multiple diagnostic tests that are intended to diagnose diseases that are hidden from the naked eye. While many people know the names of the different types of tests and scans, most do not know what the scans are intended to do. One of the types of tests that is commonly performed at Peninsula Radiological Associates is a PET scan.
What is a PET scan?
A positron emission tomography, more commonly known as PET, is a type of procedure used to scan for possible diseases inside of your body. It uses gamma rays given off by a tracer to make a 3D image of the interior of your body possible. The way this works is that you are given the tracer, which is swallowed or injected, and it gives off low levels of radiation that the machine can pick up on, allowing it to map the inside of your body. It is a painless procedure, and has few risks associated with it. At the longest, the radiotracer will be out of your system within a day.
Why get a PET scan?
It’s an easy procedure that can detect and measure numerous things about the body, with the most important and often the most relevant being your oxygen use and blood flow. The scan is simple and non-invasive.
Why a PET scan over something else?
A lot of very dangerous diseases can be detected earlier with the aid of a PET scan, from cancer to brain disorders. The test can give you early warning for life-threatening diseases. It can also detect the stages of heart disease, and can prevent stroke and heart attacks if the disease is found early.
In short, a PET scan is a relatively easy test to perform that can help to diagnose life threatening health situations. If your doctor recommends it, then it is a procedure that could very well save your life.
If you have been advised or referred for a PET scan, contact our office for an appointment with one of our radiology professionals. Our team of providers has the experience and skill to provide outstanding health services in a compassionate, caring environment.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Concussions are a concern for young athletes in sports that involve contact. Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. Monitoring an injured child or adult is essential to recognizing symptoms that require medical care. Diagnosing a concussion through the appropriate imaging testing, such as those done at Peninsula Radiology, is the most accurate form of diagnosis.
Common Causes of Concussion
There are many ways to get a concussion. Some common ways include
- playground injuries
- car accidents
- bike accidents
- Participating in any sport or activity such as:
Symptoms of a Concussion
It is not always easy to tell if you have a concussion. You don’t have to pass out (lose consciousness) to have a concussion. Symptoms of a concussion range from mild to severe and can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months. If you notice any symptoms of a concussion, contact your doctor. Physical symptoms of a concussion include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Headache and pressure in head
- Fuzzy or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Balance problems
- Feeling tired or having no energy
How is a concussion diagnosed?
You need to see a doctor if you have sustained an injury or blow to the head and are showing symptoms of a concussion. If a doctor thinks that you have a concussion, he or she will ask questions about the injury. Your doctor may test your reflexes and order a CT Scan or an MRI to make sure the brain is not swelling, bleeding or bruised.
Treatment for a Concussion
The treatment for a concussion involves resting and abstaining from all physical activity until your doctor has determined it is safe. Rest is the best way to recover from a concussion. Getting plenty of sleep and avoiding activities that are mentally and physically demanding will hasten your recovery rate.
Experts agree that the best ways to prevent concussion are to:
- Play by the rules. Teaching young athletes to respect and follow the rules of their sport is part of good coaching.
- Wear the appropriate equipment for your sport and wear it properly. Always close a chin strap if your sport requires a helmet; many concussions occur during practice.
- Examine the playing field for uneven areas or holes.
- Make certain that goal posts are padded sufficiently.
- Practice good sportsmanship. Teaching good sportsmanship is part of good coaching and good parenting; minimizing unnecessary aggression on the field.
- Learn and use proper technique for your sport. Some sports organizations have taken additional action to minimize the risk of concussion by limiting the number of contact practices allowed during the season.
If you’ve suffered any of the above causes of concussion and are showing symptoms, it is vitally important to seek medical care. Peninsula Radiology’s team of highly trained imaging professionals and medical providers are able to diagnose concussion after a thorough review of imaging tests. Contact us at (757) 989-8830 for more information.
Musculoskeletal imaging is a specialty used to look at disorders of the joints, bones and soft tissues associated with their connections. These images can be done on both adult and pediatric patients depending on individual health concerns.
This type of imaging is used in a variety of health explorations including:
- trauma situations
- sports medicine (e.g. forceful impacts or repeated strains)
- work related disorders caused by repeated motions and vibrations
- bone and soft tissue tumors
- joint disorders such as certain types of arthritis
- tears in tendons or ligaments (i.e. knee, shoulder and hip)
- congenital malformations of extremities in infants and children
- swelling or bleeding of tissues around joints
During your first appointment with your medical provider, you can expect a physical examination that will involve inspection, palpation and manipulation of the affected area. First they will look for redness, inflammation and other visible signs of an abnormal occurrence. Next they will touch the area and exert some pressure to see how the body responds to an external stimuli. Finally they will perform a range of motions to see how the area reacts to different types of movement. All of these together will help them to determine what kind of musculoskeletal condition they need to consider.
If your doctor determines that imaging would be necessary to see details of your condition, a number of different imaging options can be used:
- X-rays – this basic imaging is usually a start to get a first look at the bones, joints and soft tissue to form an initial assessment.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) – using a large magnet an MRI can produce a detailed look at the structures of the musculoskeletal system giving anatomic detail and even can provide detailed information of bone marrow in cases of infection or tumor.
- CT (computed tomography) – these images allow for a production of a three-dimensional view, making them useful in the evaluation of bone architecture, fractures and orthopedic hardware.
- Fluoroscopy – is a type of X-ray that creates moving images of joints as they are functioning.
- Ultrasound – using sound waves, an ultrasound can produce images of muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments in a noninvasive manner.
Musculoskeletal imaging also assists with soft tissue biopsies when using CT guidance or ultrasonographic procedures.
All of these imaging options have strengths for different diagnosis results and your doctor will help to determine the best course of labs for your individual circumstances.
Peninsula Radiology Associates is a full service imaging provider serving the entire Peninsula. Our specialists are trained in the latest techniques so that you can have confidence you’re receiving an accurate imaging diagnosis. Contact us at (757) 989-8830 for an appointment. We are happy to serve your imaging needs!
Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays from our family to yours, at Peninsula Radiology!
NEWPORT NEWS, Va – Dr. Elliott received his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. His Radiology Residency was at the Penn State/Hershey Medical Center where he served as Chief Resident from 2008-2009. He was a Musculoskeletal Radiology Fellow and Instructor at the Medical University of South Carolina from 2009-2010. Dr. Elliott brings to the practice a broad base of professional experience including serving as a Naval Flight Surgeon serving in San Diego, CA including two overseas deployments. Prior to receiving his medical degree, Dr. Elliott received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and in Biology from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. At Peninsula Radiology, Dr. Elliott is a Musculoskeletal Imaging and Intervention Specialist.
”We are excited to be adding someone to our team with such outstanding credentials and such a broad base of both training and experience,” said Dr. Dennie Bartol, a Vascular and Intervention Radiologist and senior member of Peninsula Radiology Associates. Dr. Elliott recently affiliated with our practice and joins other radiation specialists who have been providing the most comprehensive range of medical diagnostic imagining and procedures for fifty years on the Peninsula.
Peninsula Radiological Associates has been serving the Peninsula for over fifty years and provides the most comprehensive range of medical diagnostic imaging and procedures on the Virginia Peninsula. It offers seven convenient locations for its patients as well as providing professional reading services to local hospitals. The range of services includes MRI, CT, PET, Mammography, Fluoroscopy, Image Guided Biopsies, Interventional Radiology, Nuclear Medicine, Ultrasound, X Ray and Women’s Imaging. All imaging services are read by Board Certified Physicians, many of whom have additional certification in sub-specialties.
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