In this section, we have leaflets for the Imaging department. Please only read the materials on the advice of your clinician.
The Recite Me accessibility tools can be used if you need assistance.
This is a relatively new and evolving technique utilising the speed of the latest generation of CT scanners which can scan almost the whole body within a matter of seconds. An injection of a contrast dye can be given into a vein in the arm to highlight blood vessels and the scan timed to coincide with when all the arteries are filled with dye and show up as white. The images are then processed by a powerful computer which can then display the arteries clear of the soft tissues around them to give an accurate diagnosis of any disease of the arteries.
A CT (computed tomography) scan is a special type of x-ray which takes pictures of the inside of the body using a narrow rotating beam of x-rays focused on a specific part of the body, together with sophisticated x-ray detectors and a computer. It is a non-invasive technique, and modern scanners use multiple rows of detectors (multi-slice or multi-detector CT) to rapidly scan and produce thin high-resolution cross-sectional images of the body.
Most scans can be performed in less than a minute, and the information acquired is then processed by a computer to construct images which can be displayed in different planes, and sometimes as 3-dimensional images.
PET/CT is a unique imaging technique that combines structural and functional information to produce a fused picture of the body showing anatomy and metabolic activity.
PET (Positron Emission Tomography) uses a small dose of radioactivity coupled to glucose (FluoroDeoxyGlucose, FDG) to detect areas of increased metabolism in the body. Many cancers show significantly increased glucose uptake over normal surrounding tissues and this can be detected by a special camera placed around the body.
An MRA scan is a relatively new technique for examining blood vessels in the body.
The advantages are that it is non-invasive, requiring only a simple intravenous injection or, in some instances, no injection at all. The other attraction is that it does not require any exposure to Ionising Radiation.
MRA uses a very strong magnetic field plus radio-frequency waves to excite hydrogen nuclei (protons) contained within water in the blood vessels. The excited hydrogen nuclei gradually lose their excess energy in the form of radio waves that can be detected by special receiving coils placed close to the body part being examined.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an advanced method of creating images of the inside of the body without using X-rays or other forms of ionising radiation. It uses a combination of strong magnetic fields and radio waves, and a computer to produce pictures of any part of the body. MRI scans can be used to image the brain and spine, the heart and blood vessels, the liver and biliary system, kidneys and urinary tract, pancreas, uterus and ovaries, bowel and any sites of inflammation and tumour growth.
Your doctor has referred you to the x-ray department for an IVU examination (intravenous urogram.) This is sometimes also called an IVP. It is a special x-ray examination to outline the urinary tract which includes the kidneys, ureters and bladder. The examination will take approximately 1hour.
Mammography and Breast Ultrasound
Ultrasound imaging uses high frequency sound waves to produce a picture of the internal structures of the breast. A small handheld probe is pressed gently against the skin surface. It both generates inaudible sound waves and detects any echoes reflected back off the surfaces and tissue boundaries within the breast. From these reflected sound waves the computer generates a real time picture which is displayed on the monitor.
A core biopsy removes a piece of breast tissue for analysis. It is performed using an automatic spring loaded biopsy needle. The needle is attached to a small disposable device or ‘gun’ which quickly fires the needle into the breast and takes a narrow tubular core of tissue from it.
Core biopsy of the breast may be used to characterize a lump felt on clinical examination, or abnormalities seen on mammography or breast ultrasound.
A mammogram is the name for an x-ray carried out on the breast. The mammogram is produced by exposure to a controlled source of x-rays and shows the internal structure of the breast. The images produced may be recorded either on special photographic film or kept in digital form on computer and viewed on a screen.
Mammograms are used as a screening tool to detect early breast cancer in patients experiencing no symptoms and to diagnose breast disease in patients with symptoms such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge.
Fine needle aspiration uses a very small needle to extract fluid or cells from an abnormal area in the breast. The sample is then examined under a microscope so that a diagnosis can be made.
FNA may be used to assess an abnormality felt during physical examination or to evaluate an abnormality seen during an ultrasound scan.
Ultrasound is often used to guide the FNA to ensure that the correct area has been sampled.
Fluoroscopy is also known as ‘screening’ in radiology departments.
It is a method of using a constant stream of X rays which can be turned on and off as required, to allow a Radiologist to view a changing image.
The Interventional Suite
Fibroid embolisation is a relatively new way of treating fibroids by blocking the arteries that feed the fibroids (uterine arteries), making the fibroids shrink. It is an effective alternative to an operation.
Your gynaecologist will have told you about fibroids and discussed treatment options with you. Previously, most fibroids have been treated by an operation to remove the fibroids individually (myomectomy) or by removing the womb (hysterectomy). In your case, it has been decided that embolisation is a suitable treatment option.
This is an examination of the blood vessels that make up your fistula. A small needle is placed in your fistula and dye (contrast agent) is injected. This dye provides an image (like a map) of the blood vessels that would otherwise be invisible on X-ray. The interventional radiologist interprets the images.
These are complex procedures which are designed to treat collapse of the vertebral bodies of the spine, termed vertebral compression fractures (VCF), which can be caused by osteoporosis or by tumour. If the collapse is acute, painful and does not respond to medical treatment then you may be a candidate for a procedure using these techniques, the principal purpose of which is pain relief achieved by stabilising the fracture with bone cement. In kyphoplasty some vertebral height may be restored as well. Another advantage is that treatment of one collapse reduces the likelihood of a second one occurring at an adjacent level.
A nephrostomy is a procedure in which a fine plastic tube (catheter) is placed through the skin into your kidney to drain your urine. The urine is collected in an attached drainage bag.
The most common reason for having a nephrostomy is blockage of the ureter. The urine from a normal kidney drains through a narrow muscular tube (the ureter) into the bladder. When the ureter becomes blocked, the kidney rapidly becomes affected, especially if infection is present. If left untreated, your kidney will become damaged. A nephrostomy drainage will relieve the symptoms of blockage and keep the kidney working.
A PICC is a very fine flexible tube measuring 50-60cm in length. It is placed in a vein in the arm and threaded up into a large vein outside the heart. The PICC is made of silicone or polyurethane with a rounded tip. The PICC can have either 1 or 2 internal tubes called lumens and are defined as single or dual lumen PICC(s). The treatment prescribed determines which is used.
A percutaneous biliary drainage is a procedure in which a small plastic tube (drain) is inserted into the liver through the skin to drain the bile. It is sometimes combined with taking a picture of the bile ducts to see where the blockage might be. This is known as a percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC).
Biliary drainages are typically performed because you have become jaundiced (yellow) and extremely itchy. This is because the bile cannot flow normally into the gut and the condition makes you susceptible to infection.
A varicocele is a dilated or varicose vein in the scrotum (the loose skin around the testes). It usually occurs on the left hand side and is found in approximately 10% of men. Usually varicoceles are asymptomatic, but symptoms such as pain, particularly with prolonged standing or sitting and atrophy (shrinkage) of a testicle are recognised associations. There is also a link with infertility; in 30% of infertile couples the male partner has a varicocele.
An angiogram is a detailed x-ray of your blood vessels using small injections of a clear dye called contrast. This will show up any blockages or a narrowing that you may have.
An angioplasty is the treatment of any narrowing in your blood vessels using a balloon to stretch open a narrowing. Sometimes the doctor will use a stent to keep the blood vessel open. A stent is a wire mesh tube that props up the inside of the artery.