A: If you are scheduled for an MRI, our MRI Coordinator will call you a few days before your exam and ask you a few simple questions, such as: “Have you had heart surgery?” “Have you had eye, or ear surgery?” “Have you had a colonoscopy or endoscopy in the past two weeks?” “Do you have any stents or shunts implanted in your body?” The reason for this screening is to ensure that you do not have a metal implant or device which is not compatible with the magnetic waves emitted from an MRI scanner. Moreover, some tattoos or implants could be perfectly safe on one MRI machine, but could be incompatible with another MRI machine. The expertise of our MRI Coordinator will ensure that you have a safe and pleasant MRI experience.
A: Most people who have metal in their body after surgery can have an MRI. For example, patients with hip or knee replacements can have an MRI six weeks after surgery. Other implanted devices require less time after surgery. Certain devices can never go into the MRI machine and these include heart pacemakers, and some implanted pumps and nerve stimulators. Some brain aneurysm clips (particularly older ones) cannot go into the scanner. If you have had any prior surgery, you must let the technologist know prior to the scan. Also, if there is any chance there may be metal in any part of your body from a prior injury or from grinding metal, please inform the technologist prior to the scan.
A: The length of the exam depends on the body part being examined. Most exams take from 25 minutes to one hour.
A: In order to get the best images possible, the part of the body being studied has to be in the middle of the scanner. Thus, if you are having a brain MRI, your head will have to be in the middle of the scanner. If you are having an ankle MRI, your ankle will be in the scanner, but your head will not. If you have severe claustrophobia, ask your doctor for some medication to help you relax during the scan. Please have someone accompany you who can drive you home if you do take any medication.
Both of RIMI’s 3T MRI systems have a more spacious scanning opening which provides greater patient comfort, especially for claustrophobic patients. Most 3T exams have shorter scanning times than compared to other MRI machines, especially “open” scanners. Moreover, 3T imaging offers the highest image quality available than any other MRI machine. The 3T systems also include a video entertainment system, with a DVD library, that is compatible with iPods, iPhones, and MP3 players, to help make your exam more comfortable.
A: Your MRI examination will usually be read the same day so that your doctor will receive the results within one or two days.
A: Yes. An MRI exam is composed of a series of images. Each series takes 3 to 5 minutes. Any movement during this time causes the pictures to be “blurry” and limits the radiologist’s ability to interpret the study. Also, we focus the exam on a specific part of the body. If you move, the area we are focusing on may no longer be in the proper position.
CT Scan FAQs
A: Yes. A CT scan is made up of a series of X-rays which are processed by a computer to produce cross-sectional pictures of the part of the body in question. These cross-sectional images allow one to look at the inside of the body just as one would look at the inside of a loaf of bread by slicing it. A CT scan is made up of a series of slices.
A: The tunnel is the opening in the CT scanner. It is a short tunnel that is open in the front and back. Since the opening contains the X-ray tube and detector which create the CT pictures, the part of your body being scanned must pass through it. For example if your head or neck is being evaluated, then your head and neck will pass through the opening. If the scan is of your abdomen, then only your lower chest down will pass through the gantry.
A: For some CT scans, dye or contrast is injected into a vein. This contrast can help distinguish normal tissues from abnormal tissues. It also helps to distinguish blood vessels from other structures such as lymph nodes.
A: As with any medication, people can have an allergic reaction to the intravenous (IV) dye or contrast. At RIMI we use the safest available contrast agent. Before each test, we screen all patients for risk factors such as prior reaction to IV dye, prior severe reaction to medications/foods, or severe asthma. A small number of patients may be referred to the hospital for the CT exam after careful consideration by the radiologist and their doctors.
A: Your exam will usually be read the same day and the report will be sent to your physician as soon as possible after the radiologist has completed his or her interpretation. If requested by your physician, or if there is an urgent finding, a report will be called in to your physician the same day the exam is read. You can get the results from your doctor.
A: Compression of the breasts is necessary for a good mammogram. It allows the radiologist, the doctor who reads the mammogram, to see the normal breast tissue better and to detect an abnormality. Compression also lowers the radiation dose to the breasts. Women who have very tender breasts may experience discomfort. To reduce this discomfort, schedule your mammogram one week after your period when the breasts are typically not as tender.
A: Frequently the four standard views are adequate. However, it is common for the technologist to perform additional views if an area of tissue is not well seen on the standard views. In addition, the radiologist may request extra views to clarify an area of density or calcification seen on the standard views.
A: Some ingredients in deodorant can simulate calcifications in the breasts. When calcifications are seen on a mammogram, additional mammogram pictures are required to better visualize them. Thus, deodorant may cause you to have additional unnecessary pictures.
A: Mammography is the best test to evaluate the entire breast. Ultrasound is used as a “problem solver” to further evaluate an abnormality seen on a mammogram or a lump felt by the patient or physician.
A: Since the risk of breast cancer increases with age, it is important to keep having mammograms. If a cancer is found, it is best to find it early when the chance for a cure is highest. Studies have shown that a mammogram every year is the best test we have to catch breast cancer early.
A: If the baby is in a good position for the sonographer to see the genital region, the baby’s sex can be determined. The sex can be determined as early as 14 to 16 weeks, although it may not be clearly visible until 20 to 22 weeks.
A: Mammography is still the best way to image the entire breast. Ultrasound is used to target certain areas in question on the mammogram, as well as lumps and painful areas that the patient or physician is concerned about.
A: A distended bladder acts as a “window” through which the sound waves travel and allows the sonographer to visualize the pelvic organs. A distended bladder also displaces bowel, which can prevent visualization of the pelvic organs.
A: Fasting reduces the amount of air in the stomach and intestines which can interfere with visualization of the abdominal organs. It also ensures that the gallbladder will be distended so it can be thoroughly evaluated.
A: Your doctor should receive a written report in 2 to 3 business days. If requested by your physician, a report can be called to him/her the day of the exam. You can get the results from your doctor.
A: Yes. Please contact the site where your study was performed to request a copy of your imaging report.
A: The body is a three dimensional structure, but an X-ray is only two-dimensional. Thus, on a single X-ray the different parts of the body are superimposed on one another or may overlap one another. By taking more than one X-ray in different positions, we can better visualize the bones and soft tissues to detect an abnormality.
A: The technologists are not qualified to read your X-rays. When they check them, it is to make sure the quality is good enough for the radiologist to interpret them.
A: A radiologist is a medical doctor specially trained to interpret X-rays and other imaging tests. At RIMI all of our radiologists are board certified by the American Board of Radiology. Sometimes your doctor will request to see your X-rays in addition to having the radiologist interpret them. In this case, you can take your films with you after the radiologist has read them.
A: Usually a written report from the radiologist is sufficient. Some doctors, however, may wish to see a copy of the study and will ask you to bring a copy with you.
A: At RIMI we offer many services in addition to X-rays, which require different equipment. Another person in the waiting room may be having an ultrasound or CT scan and thus is waiting in a different “line.”
A: Your doctor should receive a written report in 2 to 3 business days. If requested by your physician, or if there is an urgent finding, a report will be called in to him/her the day of the exam. You can get the results from your doctor.
A: Radiation safety is of paramount importance to Rhode Island Medical Imaging. Our equipment and exam protocols are regularly evaluated to ensure that the lowest amount of radiation is used that will still result in the highest quality imaging. RIMI participates in the national programs called Image Gently and Image Wisely to ensure we provide the safest exams possible.