If you have ever had an injury, the chances are you’ve had some diagnostic imaging done as well. When doctors need to get a closer look at what’s going on with your injury, they will often do a number of diagnostic imaging tests, including computed tomography (CT) scans, ultrasounds, and X-rays.
However, not all of these imaging tests are the same. Some injuries require multiple tests, while others only require one. These tests help your doctor accurately diagnose your injury or illness (or rule out other medical complications), so they can get you started on the proper treatment plan.
For some patients, the thought of having these tests done can make them anxious. However, these imaging tests are non-invasive, painless, and usually relatively quick. Knowing the differences of each of these tests and what to expect can help ease your mind and understand the process.
An X-ray uses electromagnetic waves to create pictures of the internal structures of your body — particularly your bones. This test allows your ER Near Me physician to check for abnormalities like bone fractures, muscle tears, or pneumonia.
In 1895, medical radiology all started by a man named Wilhelm Röntgen. He was exploring electrical rays and how they can pass from an induction coil through a glass tube. While in a dark room, the glass tube was covered in black paper. He then noticed that a screen covered in fluorescent material became illuminated by the rays from the tube.
Using an image of his own hand on a photographic plate, Röntgen realized that these rays could be used to pass through other objects. This created the first X-ray of his hand, proving that internal parts of our body can be seen without requiring invasive surgery.
Today’s digital X-ray offers several advantages, including less radiation, a higher quality image, and quicker results for a fast and accurate diagnosis. X-rays are used to examine most areas of your body but mainly bones and joints.
The problems that may be discovered from an X-ray include:
The X-ray procedure is painless and only takes a few minutes to capture the images necessary for diagnosis. In addition, your medical team will ensure you are well-protected from unnecessary radiation by providing lead coverings.
Ultrasounds are a great diagnostic tool for seeing live images of the working structures of the body. Ultrasound imaging (sonography) uses high-frequency sound waves to capture live video and pictures of your internal structures.
Physicians often use ultrasounds to diagnose unexplained pain, swelling, or signs of infection in the body. An ultrasound can also show blood flowing through blood vessels and the movement of the body’s internal organs. Sonography is the “eyes” for helping doctors get a closer look to make a quicker and more accurate diagnosis. Unlike X-rays, there is no radiation exposure associated with ultrasounds.
Your physician also uses ultrasound technology to monitor the health of a fetus. Ultrasound imaging allows you to view the baby’s movements while in utero and take important measurements to track development.
During this exam, a thin layer of gel is applied to the skin or transducer (probe), which is then placed directly on the skin or inside your body. The gel helps ensure the ultrasound waves are transmitted from the transducer into the body. The images are produced based on the reflection of the waves off of the body structures. The strength of the sound signal and the time it takes for the wave to travel through the body produces an image that helps doctors evaluate something more closely.
Originally created for taking detailed pictures of the brain, CT scans are now much more advanced and can be used to take images of any part of the body. Your ER Near Me physician may recommend a CT scan to evaluate your bones, soft tissue, and blood vessels. A CT scan takes a series of X-ray images from different angles of your body that uses computerized technology to create high-quality images.
You may need a CT scan to diagnose:
CT scans can provide more information than plain X-rays and other imaging. CT scans are also an invaluable tool in determining the location and size of tumors to guide proper diagnosis and treatment.
CT scans are painless and safe. This type of test uses low doses of radiation, and the medical team uses the lowest dose possible to capture the images they need for diagnosis.
During the test, you will lie on your back on a table. Sometimes, a healthcare provider may need to inject the contrast dye into your vein, though not always. This dye can give you a metallic taste in your mouth or make you feel flushed.
When the scan begins, the bed will slowly move into a donut-shaped scanner. You will need to stay as still as possible, as movement can create blurry or unusable images. The scanner will then take pictures of the targeted area that your physician needs to see.
Different preparations are required for each diagnostic imaging. For X-rays, you do not need to do anything differently — unless advised otherwise by the medical team, you can eat, drink, and take your usual medications beforehand. Let the emergency room know if you’re pregnant, as X-rays are not recommended if you are pregnant unless it’s an emergency.
For CT scans, typically you should avoid eating or drinking for four hours before your exam. Check with your physician for specific instructions and ask if you should take your regular medications before the scan.
As with most diagnostic imaging, you will be asked to remove any jewelry or clothes containing metal.
For ultrasounds, there are specific instructions required based on what area of the body will be scanned. Meanwhile, most bladder ultrasounds require that you drink 32 ounces of water before the scan. Check with your physician or medical team prior to your scan for specific preparation instructions.
As a full-service, concierge emergency room, ER Near Me is qualified to handle anything you need, including diagnostic testing. With on-site radiology and imaging, the medical team can quickly and efficiently diagnose injuries and illnesses.
ER Near Me offers various diagnostic options based on your injury, including X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasound. Once the physicians and nurses understand the extent of your condition, they recommend the best course of treatment to restore your overall health.
Want to know more about ER Near Me’s diagnostic imaging and on-site radiology? Check out our quick fact sheet for a short breakdown of our services. Don’t forget to print it out and save it for later!