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Abdominal Imaging FAQ

What types of imaging are used for the abdomen?

Organs and areas in the abdomen or pelvis may be imaged, or pictured, by x-ray, body CT, ultrasound, MRI, barium exams and nuclear medicine imaging.

How do x-ray exams work?

A radiograph, or x-ray, is the most common type of medical imaging. X-rays use a small amount of radiation to create pictures, or images, of the body’s internal structures. X-rays are noninvasive tests. Radiation dose is determined by type of exam and body area being imaged.

What is body CT?

Quay thử miền nam hôm nayBody CT, or computed tomography, takes multiple images in visual cross-sections inside the body. These pictures are made by special equipment during a CT scan or CAT scan, with a low amount of radiation. The CT scanner rotates around the examination table, taking pictures quickly and painlessly. A computer assembles those images into a multidimensional view.

Compared to regular x-ray images, body CT images can show greater detail on soft tissue, blood vessels, organs and even bone.

How does ultrasound work?

Quay thử miền nam hôm nayUltrasound, or sonography, uses sound waves to create pictures of the inside of the body. It is a painless method of imaging the structure and movement of organs and blood flow. Gel is placed on the skin and an external probe is moved across the area to transmit and collect sound waves. A computer turns the sound waves into images. There is no radiation or x-ray exposure.

Quay thử miền nam hôm nayGeneral ultrasound is 2D, or two-dimensional (flat). 3D ultrasound creates 3D images for specialized uses and 4D technology can animate 3D images. Doppler ultrasound examines blood flow in arteries, veins and blood vessels.

What is MRI?

MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, creates detailed pictures of organs, soft tissue and bone. Images are made using a unit equipped with a powerful magnet and radio waves. There is no radiation or x-ray exposure.

The examination table moves through the MRI unit, a large tube, as images are taken. High field MRI units with wider openings are available to create greater comfort for claustrophobic, bariatric or larger patients.

What are barium exams?

Some abdominal imaging is conducted with the use of barium, a material that provides contrast and improves viewing of images on x-rays or CTs.

What is nuclear medicine imaging?

These scans show molecular or chemical activity within the body, using small amounts of radiotracers, or radioactive material, that are swallowed, injected or inhaled. The material gradually flushes out of the body after imaging is completed. Nuclear medicine imaging modalities include positron emission tomography, or PET, and SPECT, single-photon emission-computed tomography. Nuclear imaging may be more sensitive than other types of imaging for certain conditions.

How should I prepare for abdominal imaging?

Preparation depends on the type of imaging you will receive. You will be told if you must not eat or drink for a few hours before the exam, or other instructions that could affect imaging results. It’s best to wear comfortable clothing without metal on it, although you may be given a gown to wear.

Who reads and evaluates the images?

A radiologist, a physician trained in interpreting radiology exams, will analyze the abdominal imaging and report findings to your doctor, who will discuss the results with you.

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