St. Michael’s Radiology department consists of three major types of testing: x-ray, CT and ultrasound. The department is staffed 24 hours a day with a certified radiology technician. If a St. Michael’s doctor determines that a patient need an x-ray, ultrasound or a CT, the patient can be confident that they’re in good hands. St. Michael’s radiology technician will take the patient through the process of radiology at St. Michael’s Emergency Rooms step by step.
While most people have an idea what happens during an x-ray, many have never encountered a CT. If the examining physician determines a CT scan would better help diagnose a patient’s condition, the patient might have questions. Below are some frequently asked questions that we hear from our patients at St. Michael’s Emergency Rooms.
What is a CT?
A CT is one of many diagnostic tools a doctor can use to better understand the source of discomfort in a patient. A CT scan, also called a CAT scan (which is an acronym for “computerized axial tomography”) is a non-invasive, painless procedure that clearly shows an area of the body. Before CT was developed in the 1970s, doctors would have to perform surgery to have a better look at the interior soft tissue or interior bones in a patient. The CT scan requires no incision or healing time, and at St. Michael’s, can give the doctor and patient results very quickly.
How Does a CT Scan Work?
A CT scan is a type of x-ray that shows body parts in “slices.” A patient is placed on a large table that slides into a scanning machine and x-ray beams are rotated throughout the body to detect the density of the tissue. These beams are translated via computer into images or “slices” so the doctor can get a closer look at various layers of tissue. The slices can then be stacked via the computer to create a 3-D image of the area. A dye, called “contrast” is sometimes applied to the area being diagnosed to help the radiologist get a more distinct look at that tissue.
What Does St. Michael’s CT look like?
On this page is a photo of a St. Michael’s CT machine. It looks like a table with a giant donut at the end. The patient is placed on the table feet first and the table slides the patient into the open end of the machine.
What Should A Patient Do to Prepare For Their CT Scan?
It’s important that the doctor or radiology technician knows if a patient is wearing any artificial devices such as a replacement knee, pacemaker, hearing aid or artificial hip. The patient will be asked to remove all jewelry and to take out any removable dental appliances. The patient will be placed in a hospital gown to wear for the duration of the CT exam.
Who Performs the CT Scan?
A certified radiology technician performs the CT scan. St. Michael’s is very fortunate to have emergency room-trained radiology technicians on staff and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How Long Does the CT Scan Take?
The test is very quick and should not take more than 10-30 minutes.
Who Views the Information and Interprets the Results?
St. Michael’s is an innovator in medicine in the Sugar Land area. Rather than sending the CT scan x-ray images out to a lab by mail or courier, St. Michael’s has Radiologists (medical doctors who specialize in radiology) on stand-by 24 hours a day. The CT scan images are sent electronically to a board-certified radiologist and St. Michael’s receives the results back in a short time, usually within thirty (30) minutes or less.
What is the Difference Between a CT and an MRI?
MRI machines were developed in the 1980s, and use radio waves and magnets to send information to the computer. MRIs are useful in showing ligaments and tendons, knees and shoulders. These areas are not as easily viewed by a CT scan. For showing diseased, injured or torn organs, the brain, lungs, the spinal column and broken bones, a CT scan is a better choice in emergency situations.
What is an Ultrasound?
Also called a “sonogram” an ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to show an image of the body’s interior. Like a CT, ultrasound is a non-invasive, painless procedure that clearly shows an area of the body that cannot be seen by the naked eye from the outside. Unlike a CT scan or x-ray, ultrasound imaging uses no radiation.
How Does Ultrasound Imaging Work?
Much like a bat or sonar used in a ship, ultrasound imaging uses the “echolocation” created when sound hits an object. A doctor or radiology technician measures the echoing waves, and can discover the size, distance and nature of an object, such as if it’s filled with fluid or if it’s solid. How this works: When the echoing waves contact bones, fluid or tissue, the sound waves created are sent back to the ultrasound machine. The machine then measures the speed at which the images traveled and displays these calculations on the ultrasound monitor. Closer areas of interest are reflected as being brighter on-screen. Through the ultrasound exam, hundreds of images are being captured. Then both the bright and dull spots will be combined into to a 2D image of the area being studied.
How Is the Ultrasound Examination Performed?
In an ultrasound imaging examination, an odorless, colorless gel is applied to the skin covering the interior area being examined. Then a hand-held device called a “transducer” is rotated over the gel as it picks up sound images from the interior of the body. The echoing waves are sent to a computer which measures and displays the image in real-time. The computer then captures the images and can produce charts, graphs and photograph-like images in black and white or color to be interpreted by a Radiologist.
What Does St. Michael’s Ultrasound Equipment look like?
On this page is a photo of a St. Michael’s portable ultrasound machine. It looks like a high tech cart displaying a computer, printer and hand-held monitoring device (the transducer).
What Should A Patient Do to Prepare For Their Ultrasound?
The patient will be asked to remove all jewelry and to wear a hospital gown. For some types of ultrasound examinations, the patient may be asked to drink 6 glasses of water (and not to not urinate) for the two hours prior to the test. For other types of ultrasound exams, the patient might be asked to fast for 12 hours prior to ultrasound imaging. The St. Michael’s attending physician will instruct the patient prior to having an ultrasound exam about the specific kind of preparation needed.
Who Performs the Ultrsound?
At St. Michael’s, the examining physician or a certified radiology technician performs the ultrasound. St. Michael’s is very fortunate to have emergency room-trained doctors and radiology technicians on staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How Long Does the Ultrasound Take?
The test is very quick and should not take more than 30 minutes. After the ultrasound imaging test is completed, the gel is wiped off and the testing phase is complete.
Who Views the Information and Interprets the Results?
St. Michael’s is an innovator in medicine in the Sugar Land area. Rather than sending the ultrasound images out to a lab by mail or courier, St. Michael’s has Radiologists (medical doctors who specialize in radiology) on stand-by 24 hours a day. The ultrasound images are sent electronically to the Radiologist and St. Michael’s receives the results back in a short time, usually within an hour.