Imaging Services (Radiology)

Few medical specialties have changed as dramatically in recent years as radiology, also known as imaging. The development and refinement of imaging equipment giving physicians better views inside the human body have made many other advancements possible. For example, many procedures previously performed as open surgery can now be done as image-guided, minimally invasive procedures.

In the relatively new field of interventional radiology, physicians use imaging technology to guide biopsies, drain fluids, insert catheters, dilate and stent narrowed ducts and vessels, often with less risk, less pain, and shorter recovery time than open surgery.

St. Mary's highly qualified radiology staff and board-certified radiologists provides radiology consultation services 24 hours a day. Our radiologists include sub-specialists in the fields of vascular and interventional radiology, musculoskeletal radiology, body imaging and diagnostic radiology. Our radiology staff include specialists in digital and computerized radiography (X-ray), bone densitometry, computed tomography (CT), interventional radiology (IR), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mammography, nuclear medicine, positron emission technology (PET) and sonography (ultrasound).

Imaging services for most outpatients are performed at Pavilion Imaging, in the St. Mary's Advanced Medicine Pavilion. Imaging services for admitted patients, emergencies, and outpatient procedures requiring sedation or extended observation are performed in the Radiology Department on the Main Floor of St. Mary's Hospital.

Our imaging services include:

Bone Densitometry
Bone Densitometry evaluates bone mineral density (BMD) to classify bone mass as normal, osteopenia or osteoporosis. Using Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA), selected bones are scanned with a low dose of radiation to measure BMD. The procedure is non-invasive and painless and gives your doctor information to help you maintain the health of your bones. Your doctor may order a bone density test, or Bone Densitometry, to determine if you have osteoporosis or low bone mass.

Bone Densitometry exams are available at Pavilion Imaging.

CT Scan
Computed Axial Tomography (also known as CT or CAT Scan) uses x-rays to produce a computerized image of a specific area of the body. St. Mary's and Pavilion Imaging's ultra-fast scanners complete and display studies up to six times faster than traditional machines of their kind. With their advanced x-ray detection systems and upgraded computer options, the units are able to scan multiple sections of the body simultaneously. The rapid evaluation of trauma patients for head, spine, or abdominal injuries means treatment starts sooner. CT is also widely used in cardiology and orthopedic surgery because the scan shows comprehensive three-dimensional displays of blood vessels and bones.

CT Scans are available at both Pavilion Imaging and St. Mary's Hospital Radiology Department.

Diagnostic X-Ray
A general radiograph (also known as an x-ray), uses ionizing radiation to take a picture of a specific area of the body.  St. Mary's staff uses both computerized and digital radiography (CR and DR) to provide your physician with the high quality x-ray images they need.

Diagnostic X-Ray exams are available at both Pavilion Imaging and St. Mary's Hospital Radiology Department.

Interventional Radiology (IR)
In the growing field of interventional radiology, specially trained radiologists use their expertise in guiding catheters into vessels for evaluation. Using these minimally invasive techniques, St. Mary's radiology team helps diagnose and treat medical conditions, helping some patients avoid surgery.

For example, guided by imaging, radiologists can stop blood flow in internal bleeding injuries. By following the flow of an injected dye, or contrast, our radiology team can locate a problem such as a blood clot or tumor.  Interventional radiology techniques can also dissolve blood clots and open narrowed or blocked blood vessels, avoiding traditional surgery.

Interventional Radiology procedures are available at both Pavilion Imaging (limited procedures) and St. Mary's Hospital Radiology Department.

A mammogram is one of the most reliable procedures for detecting breast tumors. If done on a regular basis, it can detect breast cancer in its early, most curable stages. Pavilion Imaging's Wilma B. Bacon Mammography Center produces high quality mammograms at the lowest radiation dose possible. Other breast services provided by Pavilion Imaging include breast ultrasound, breast MRI, stereotactic breast biopsy, ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, MRI-guided breast biopsy, needle localization procedures and sentinel lymph node injections.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Physicians are able to see parts of the body, as well as the physical and chemical changes within the brain and other organs with the aid of a MRI unit. This non-invasive procedure uses a strong magnetic field and radiofrequency waves to produce images that can detect and define differences between normal and abnormal tissue. Additionally, Open MRI technology can be used to image those patients who are unable to undergo traditional MRI procedures due to claustrophobia or size.

Traditional MRI exams are available at both Pavilion Imaging and St. Mary's Hospital Radiology Department. Open MRI exams will be available at Pavilion Imaging in February 2006.

Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear isotopes are used in radiology to help diagnose a variety of conditions. A small amount of radioactive material is injected and followed by special scanning equipment as the body absorbs it. By watching how the patient's body deals with the material, physicians can detect tumors and other abnormalities, assess blood flow to specific parts of the body, locate obstructed blood vessels or ducts, and detect abnormal functioning of the stomach, liver, gallbladder and other organs.

In evaluating the heart, for example, nuclear scans provide more information than a routine stress test. In a standard stress test, an EKG (electrocardiogram) machine can tell the physician the heart is not getting adequate oxygen, but a nuclear scan can show which parts of the heart are affected, where blood flow is sluggish or blocked.

Nuclear Medicine services are available at St. Mary's Hospital Radiology Department.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET/CT)
PET and CT imaging tools are used in combination to detect disease in its earliest stages. PET scans study metabolic activity or body function. It shows where glucose, the sugar the body uses to produce energy, is used, such as in the abnormal cells of a growing tumor.  CT scans provide a detained, 3D picture of the location and size of the tumor. Combined by a computer, PET and CT images are particularly useful in locating very small areas of abnormal tissue and tumors in areas where dense tissue, organs, and bone obscure the view. This combination of images helps find cancers in their earliest stages when treatment can be most effective. Pavilion Imaging's PET/CT unit is the only one in a 250-mile radius.

In an ultrasound, sound waves are used to construct images of internal body organs and for fetal imaging. Physicians use ultrasound results to make a diagnosis and establish appropriate treatment plans. Moving pictures of blood flow in the arteries can also be produced using ultrasound technology, enabling neurologists to locate and evaluate narrowed or blocked arteries.

Ultrasound services are provided at both Pavilion Imaging and St. Mary's Hospital Radiology Department.