Breast imaging captures images of breast tissue by combining multiple imaging technologies, such as mammography (the use of x-rays), ultrasound and MRI procedures.
CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan, also known as a CT scan, uses an x-ray machine to take several pictures from different angles, providing a highly detailed image. Some CT scans require contrast to enhance the image quality. Patients may be given contrast to drink or have it administered through an IV prior to a scan. Some areas of the body that are examined with a CT scan are the chest, the nervous system and musculoskeletal systems. MD Anderson offers weekend appointments for those needing a CT.
Clinical nuclear medicine uses a small amount of radioactive tracers to indicate the presence of disease within specific organs. This imaging technique helps reveal the concentration and location of the disease. Exams performed include bone scans, bone mineral density, thyroid cancer study and more.
General/body ultrasound operates with high-energy sound waves that bounce off internal tissues and organs and produce echo patterns. The echo patterns create a picture referred to as a sonogram, which can be seen on the ultrasound machine. A biopsy may also be performed during an ultrasound. Ovarian screening, pelvic bleeding and abnormal blood work are a few reasons to perform an ultrasound.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses magnetic fields and radio waves, rather than radiation, to generate pictures of the body’s soft tissue and organs. Contrast may be added into the body to enhance the images. Metal outside the body, such as jewelry, must be taken off, while metal inside the body, such as surgical implants, must be removed before a scan. An MRI can be used to image the head, spine, abdomen and other body parts. MRI is available during the weekend at some MD Anderson locations.
PET (positron emission tomography) scan is a technique in which a small dose of radioactive sugar is injected into a patient. A scanner shows where the sugar is being distributed, allowing for the creation of an image. The pictures can help radiologists find cancer cells in the body. Tests are conducted for PET oncology and neurology.
Radiography/fluoroscopy utilizes x-rays to take a wide variety of images that form a live look at internal organs. This type of imaging is common for pediatric patients. Fluoroscopy can also be used to help guide the placement of medical devices inside the body. The spine, chest, pelvis and more are evaluated with this method.
X-rays are the most common way doctors attain images of the inside of the body. They use low doses of high-energy radiation that travel through the body. Radiography refers to the use of x-rays. Radiologists can spot abnormal areas in x-ray images that may indicate the presence of cancer.
Some cancer patients may have concerns about the safety of various diagnostic scans, especially those that expose them to ionizing radiation on a regular basis.
Here, MD Anderson experts Dianna Cody, Ph.D., Kyle Jones, Ph.D., and Joseph Steele, M.D., weigh in to dispel some myths about diagnostic imaging.
Taking pictures in the dark
Before we had X-rays, MRIs and PET scans, doctors had to perform exploratory surgery...