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SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Department of Radiology

For Patients

The Basics and What to Expect

X-Ray

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  • Special type imaging that uses radiation called electromagnetic waves
  • Creates pictures of inside your body when different tissues absorb different amounts of ionizing radiation
  • These pictures demonstrate various shades of gray with air being black and bones being white
  • X-rays can be harmful in large doses so we limit your exposure as best we can
  • during the study a plate will be positioned underneath the area we are imaging and a tube opposite the plate will be used to take a picture

CT

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  • Special type of imaging that uses multiple x-rays and computers to make very clear pictures of your body
  • This technique again uses radiation; each slice of the scan shows a different level of your body
  • During the study you lie still on a table that passes through the center of the larger machine
  • Sometimes contrast is used like a dye in your veins to help improve images that we obtain

MRI

  • Special type of imaging that uses magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the structures inside your body
  • These pictures are created without the use of ionizing radiation
  • Certain devices are not safe inside the large magnet and the technologist will check with you about them
  • During the study you lie still on a table that slides inside a tunnel-shaped machine
  • The machine may make a lot of noise while working
  • Sometimes contrast is used like a dye in your veins to help improve images that we obtain

Ultrasound

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  • Special type of imaging that uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of the structures in your body
  • These pictures are created without the use of ionizing radiation
  • During the study you lie on table while we use a handheld device called a transducer attached to a monitor/machine
  • Pressing on the area of interest allows us to send sound waves into the body and capture the waves that bounce back
  • We can also see flow of blood in vessels using sound waves that show up in color on the screen

Facts about Contrast

  • We use contrast which is similar to a dye in order to obtain better images and provide your primary doctor with more useful information.
  • Contrast is usually given either orally (by mouth) or intravenously (through an IV in your arm).
  • Your body gets rid of the intravenous contrast through your kidneys, the more you urinate the quicker your body will remove the contrast from your blood.
  • The risks of receiving contrast are allergic reaction (varying for very mild to severe) as well as worsening of kidney problems for those with pre-existing disease.

Imaging For Kids

  1. It is our goal to limit radiation exposure for our pediatric patients.
  2. MRI and US are frequently used as alternatives to standard imaging.

Imaging When Pregnant

  1. It is our goal to limit radiation exposure for our pregnant patients.
  2. MRI and US are frequently used as alternatives to standard imaging.

How to Prepare for your Examination

  1. Remember to bring a list of your medications
  2. Arrive early and check in as soon as possible
  3. Refrain from eating the morning of your examination
  4. Drink plenty of fluids after receiving a contrast enhanced examination
  5. Call well in advance for any changes or cancellations