Radiology and imaging services are an important part of diagnosis. Your doctor uses these tests to plan and guide your treatment, and monitor how well therapies are working.
University of Maryland Capital Region Health uses the latest imaging equipment to help identify health problems quickly. Our radiology and imaging care team includes doctors (radiologists), nurses and certified imaging technologists. Our imaging professionals give your doctor fast, accurate results so your diagnosis and treatment can begin as quickly as possible.
We understand you may feel anxious about a test, so we make sure to answer your questions and make you feel at ease. Our imaging technologists take the time to discuss your test so you know what to expect. We’re focused on your health, safety and comfort.
Advanced Imaging Technology
Doctors use imaging tests for diagnosis and treatment planning, but they also use imaging equipment to guide a variety of procedures — such as getting tissue samples (biopsies) and performing heart and vascular procedures. Our imaging technologists follow stringent safety guidelines to minimize your exposure to radiation.
Computed Tomography (CT or CAT scan)
CT is a painless, noninvasive exam that creates detailed pictures of bones, soft tissue, organs and blood vessels using advanced X-ray and computer technology. It can help your doctor find signs of disease throughout your body.
In some instances, you may drink a special liquid (contrast solution) to make your organs easier to see. A CT can take between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on the area being examined.
Interventional radiologists specialize in minimally invasive procedures to get a closer look at structures inside your body. Your doctor makes a tiny incision in your upper thigh or wrist and inserts a catheter — a thin, flexible tube — into a large blood vessel and guides the catheter to the area that’s being examined.
The exam may use X-ray, CT or other imaging techniques, depending on the condition. Sometimes your doctor takes a tissue or blood sample during the exam or injects a contrast solution into a vessel or organ to get a clearer picture.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI is a painless, noninvasive exam that uses very powerful magnets and radio waves to create clear pictures of your body’s organs, muscles, spine and blood vessels. Doctors use MRI to look for disease throughout your body. In some cases, you may drink a contrast solution before the exam to make certain areas easier to see.
MRI exams don’t use radiation, but the magnetic energy means people with metal devices or implants can’t have this type of exam. MRI scans can take from 30 minutes to an hour or longer.
Nuclear medicine exams are noninvasive, painless tests used to see the structure of organs, tissues and bones and how they function in real time. These tests can help your doctor identify a disease in the earliest stages.
You receive an injection of a medically safe level of a radioactive material (called a radiotracer) before the exam — you may have to wait a little while to allow the medicine to travel through your body. As the radiotracer travels through your body, it gives off energy that’s detected by a camera and computer technology to create detailed images.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that can find breast tumors before they’re large enough to feel. This 10-minute exam can help find breast cancer in the earliest stages, when it’s most treatable. There are two types of mammograms:
- Screening mammograms – Routine exams that look for changes from your last mammogram. They’re used to find cancer and don’t require a doctor’s referral.
- Diagnostic mammograms – Exams that take a closer look after an abnormal screening mammogram. This type of mammogram needs a doctor’s referral.
Mammograms are painless for most women. The exam does require slight pressure on your breast for a few seconds when X-rays are taken, which may be uncomfortable for some women.
Ultrasound, also called sonography, is a painless, noninvasive exam that uses sound waves to create real-time images of organs inside your body. Because no radiation is used, it’s safe to use on pregnant women to monitor the health of a growing fetus. It’s often used to evaluate blood flow or examine the gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidney and bladder.
To perform the exam, a sonographer glides a small device on your skin over the area that’s being examined, and images are displayed on a computer monitor.
X-rays (radiography) create images of your body’s internal structures, particularly your bones. It’s the most widely used diagnostic test. In addition to diagnosing broken bones, doctors use X-rays to diagnose arthritis, lung infections, blocked blood vessels, digestive tract problems and more.