Your physician will determine what type of imaging will be performed and order that procedure for you. Below are descriptions of the most common types of imaging procedures available through Tanner Health System’s Diagnostic Imaging departments. To view a list of these diagnostic imaging services by location, select Services by Location.
Bone Density (DEXA)
Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA, is the most common method to measure a patient's bone density. A DEXA scanner is a machine that produces two X-ray beams, each with different energy levels. One beam is high energy while the other is low energy. The amount of X-rays that pass through the bone is measured for each beam. Based on the difference between the two beams, the bone density can be measured. A low bone density may indicate osteoporosis—a degenerative bone condition that can cause bones to become weak and fracture easily. Learn more about bone density (DEXA).
Cardiac scoring is a non-invasive CT scan (see Computed Tomography) that quantitatively assesses extent of coronary artery calcium deposits. This build-up of calcium (or plaque) can cause the arteries to narrow. Plaque also can break away from the artery walls and cause a blockage. In both instances the heart muscle does not receive enough blood flow and oxygen-thus a heart attack can occur. For the cardiac scoring scan, you lie down on the imaging table while a CT technologist places a few EKG leads on you. You are then asked to hold your breath while the images are taken. Learn more about cardiac scoring.
The catheterization (or “cath”) lab uses a special tube, called a catheter, that is inserted into a blood vessel to inject dye. This allows certain blood vessels to be seen on a monitor and electronically recorded, providing a moving image of blood flowing through vessels and helping physicians determine if a vessel is blocked. Learn more about the catheterization lab.
Computed Tomography (CT)
Computed tomography (CT) uses a special X-ray device to create images that illustrate a cross-section of the body. A CT (also known as a CAT or Computed Axial Tomography) machine allows radiologists to capture a series of images of the body, allowing them to view organs and other anatomical structures “slice by slice” to detect any abnormalities. A contrast medium, or dye, is often injected to provide better views of some anatomical structures. Learn more about computed tomography (CT).
With digital mammography, X-ray beams are captured on specially-designed digital detectors. The digital detector converts the X-ray beams into electronic signals, which are then sent to a computer. The radiologist can review the digital mammogram on a high-resolution computer monitor, zooming in and digitally enhancing the image to make the most accurate diagnosis. Designed for faster examinations, less compression and increase image quality, digital mammography has proven to be more effective in the detection of breast cancer Available at Tanner Breast Health in Carrollton and Villa Rica. Learn more about digital mammography.
Fluoroscopy and X-rays both use small doses of radiation to take internal images of the body. X-rays are still pictures, while fluoroscopy procedures produce live pictures on a computer screen. Learn more about fluoroscopy.
An upper GI is an X-ray exam to examine the stomach. Patients drink a contrast material called barium while the radiologist takes images using fluoroscopy. The procedure takes about 20 to 30 minutes. A barium enema is an X-ray exam of the colon. Contrast material is given through an enema and the radiologist uses fluoroscopy as the colon fills. The procedure time is about 30 to 45 minutes. Learn more about gastrointestinal imaging.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Tanner will begin offering Open MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) this fall with the installation of a Philips Panorama High Field Open MR system at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton. Tanner offers traditional MRI services at each of its three hospitals, including two 1.5T MRI scanners at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton, one at Higgins General Hospital in Bremen and a powerful 3.0T MRI scanner at Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica. Rather than using X-rays, MRI scanners use a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to construct images of the inside of a patient’s body. Learn more about magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Patients undergoing nuclear medicine procedures are injected with a small amount of radioactive substance that is attracted to a specific organ. When the patient is placed under a special device, technologists are able to capture an image of the organs. Learn more about nuclear medicine.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Positron emission tomography (PET) produces images of tissue structures using small amounts of a radioactive substance that is injected into the bloodstream. The substance may have to travel through the patient’s blood vessels for up to an hour, at which point the patient goes through a scanner to capture images of the substance as it moves through the body. The reason why PET is so successful is that no other imaging technique shows the internal chemistry of the body so well. Conventional imaging techniques such as X-ray, CAT scans, and Magnetic Imaging Resonance show anatomy. PET detects chemical and metabolic changes in disease states, such as cancer, before anatomic and structural changes (detected by conventional imaging) have time to develop.
Therefore PET can detect diseases when anatomic imaging studies are still normal, and may be informative in differentiating benign from malignant process. PET evaluation of tissue metabolism can indicate the probable presence or absence of malignancy based on differences of biological activity, where as anatomic imaging depends on size and radiographic characteristics of lesions to determine the likelihood of malignancy. In addition, whole body imaging with PET provides a means to examine all the organ systems in the entire body for both primary and metastatic disease in one procedure. Tanner Health System offers its patients the precision of a state-of-the-art whole body PET scanner (Philips Gemini Pet/CT scanner) on its Carrollton campus. At Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton, PET may be used in combination with CT, creating an even more powerful diagnostic tool. Learn more about positron emission tomography (PET).
In screen-film mammography, X-ray beams are captured on a film cassette. The film is then developed, and a radiologist reviews the films on a high-intensity light box. Available at Higgins General Hospital in Bremen. Learn more about screen-film mammography.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs in the body. The sound waves are transmitted into the body and images are created from the echo of the sound waves as they strike different tissues and are bounced back. Ultrasounds are commonly used to examine the blood flow through blood vessels, to look at certain organs or to view babies before they are born. Learn more about ultrasound.
Conventional X-rays pass through the body to capture images of internal body structures, such as bones or organs. Traditionally, X-rays have been processed on special photographic film. However, Tanner now uses devices to capture X-ray images digitally, allowing the system to electronically store the images or send them to physicians. Learn more about X-rays.