When you?re informed by your doctor that you?ll need to undergo medical imaging, such as a CT scan, MRI or ultrasound,your first reaction might be alarm and uncertainty. But it?s important to realize that this type of technology has a positive effect on patient care. In fact, the images gathered during this process can be extremely helpful ? even lifesaving.
Furthermore, medical imaging is a common tool. According to the legal team of Crowe & Mulvey, ?In modern medicine, medical imaging is a leading method of diagnosing patients across a wide range of ailments and illnesses.?
Before you go to your medical imaging appointment, you might wonder what all it will entail. Most appointments only take one to two hours, but the actual time could vary. Not everyone will have the same type of medical imaging performed because it will depend on what part of your body ? ligaments, tendons, organs, bones or joints ?your doctor needs to examine in detail.
Here are six things to expect in general when you have a medical imaging appointment:
- You May Have to Restrict Food and Drink Before Your Appointment
Depending on what type of imaging you?re going to have, you might be required to fast for a certain number of hours before your appointment, such as if the imaging is going to take pictures of your bowels. However, you will know if you need to do this before the day of your appointment. Also, prior to the medical imaging procedure, you may be required to drink a liquid or receive an injection to help improve the contrast of the images.
- You?ll Need to Arrive Early
Some medical imaging centers will have online patient portals available that will allow you to access required forms and complete them prior to your appointment. However, to avoid complications, you should still plan to arrive 15 to 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to check in and complete any other paperwork that?s needed.
- You?ll Have a Chance to Ask Any Questions You Have Before the Procedure
Before the procedure, you?ll be escorted from the waiting area to a different room where you will be able to ask questions about what will happen during the medical imaging process. The technician may also explain how the procedure will work if you haven?t already been informed and evenallow you to see the equipment.
- Some Items or Conditions May Interfere With the Procedure
Personal items, such as glasses, hearing aids, jewelry, coins, keys, pocket knives or hair accessories could cause an interference during the imaging process, so you will likely have to remove them. The best thing to do is to leave all unnecessary personal items at home, so you can avoid having to hassle with them at your appointment.
If you?re having an MRI and you have metal plates, pins or screws or other metal or shrapnel embedded in your body, you need to inform the technician before the imaging begins. Also if you think you might be pregnant or you have claustrophobia, let the tech know ahead of time so the appropriate measures can be taken.
- You Won?t Receive a Diagnosis from the Technician
Although the tech will complete the medical imaging procedure, he won?t be able to give you a diagnosis. That?s your doctor?s responsibility. The technician?s job is to give you instructions such as asking you to change your position during the procedure, take a deep breath or restrict all movement while images are being taken.
- You May Have to Spend Time in Recovery
Depending on the scope of your procedure, you may be able to leave directly following the medical imaging session. There could be a delay, however, if the technician finds the images are not as clear or readable as they should be and needs to retake some of them.
If the procedure was more involved or if you were prescribed a sedative, you might have to be moved to a recovery room before you are allowed to leave. You may also have to have someone drive you home as well.
Once your appointment is concluded, the technician will forward your images to your medical doctor. Results could be available within a few days.
A medical imaging appointment is a common procedure and nothing to worry over. Under most circumstances, your appointment should progress smoothly as long as you?re prepared, you arrive on time and you follow instructions.