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AtlantiCare Imaging Services

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we provide answers to some of the most common questions about Medical Imaging procedures. Please choose the subject of your question from the list below. If you still have questions about a procedure, please call 1-888-569-1000.

General Questions

Why do I need to arrive 15-30 minutes before my appointment time?
So we can accommodate as many patients as efficiently as possible. By arriving early, you have adequate time to complete your necessary paperwork and prepare for your exam.

Who performs my exam?
Each examination is performed by an board-certified technologist and overseen by one of our board-certified radiologists.

When will I receive my test results?
Our board-certified radiologists will review your case and send the results directly to your referring physician. If we determine your case is a medical emergency, we will notify your doctor immediately.

Why do you need all my films to date?
Our radiologist needs to see how the film from this exam compares with your previous exams. This allows us to identify any subtle changes as well as eliminate the need for further, redundant exams.

Do I need a referral or preauthorization from my healthcare company?
Some plans do require it. Check with your insurance company to see what exactly is covered and if preauthorization is necessary.

I don’t have medical insurance. How much will my medical procedure cost?
If you do not have insurance and/or you have questions about paying for your procedure, please call 609-407-2060.

My child is having an exam. May I stay with him/her?
Yes, a family member may accompany a child under 5 years old. The family member must be at least 18 years old and must not be pregnant.

Can my child go for his/her exam alone?
Yes. All that is required is written authorization from a parent or legal guardian.

What should I wear for my exam?
It’s best to dress comfortably, as in sweat pants, t-shirts, etc. You must be metal-free — no buckles, metal rivets, underwire bras, etc. No jewelry please.

I’ve read everything here, but I still have questions.
Our expert staff of professionals is happy to answer any and all questions before the start of your exam. If you’d like to email us with a particular question, click here.

Bone Densitometry Questions

What will I experience during the exam?
All you have to do is lie still on a padded table and breathe normally. The x-ray dosage is extremely low and only takes a few minutes.
I have a low “T-score.” What does that mean?  
The lower your T-score, the lower your bone mass. For example, If your T-score is -1.0, then your bone mass is 10% below normal. If your T-score is -2.0, your bone mass is 20% below normal, which is indicative of osteoporosis.

CT Scan Questions

What will I experience during the exam?
Before your exam, our registered CT technologist will meet with you to review your medical history, ask questions, and describe the procedure to you in detail. At this time, if you have any questions or concerns about your ability to lie still during the exam, please inform the technologist. You’ll be asked to lie still on the CT table and instructed on how to breathe. Depending on the test your physician ordered, the technologist may give you an intravenous contrast injection. Throughout the procedure, you will feel the CT table move slightly. You will also be asked to hold yourself in a certain position at times. You’ll be able to see and talk to the CT technologist throughout the entire procedure. While CT exams aren’t painful, if at any time you experience discomfort, you’ll be able to let the technologist know.

What is the Intravenous CT Contrast Injection?
The contrast is injected into a vein using a small needle during a specific period in the CT exam. The contrast circulates the blood stream, through the heart and arteries, capillaries and veins, to essentially “enhance” the tissue structure of your organs so they appear highlighted on the CT images for a more precise diagnosis.

Is the Intravenous CT Contrast Injection safe?
Absolutely. We use “non-ionic” contrast, which has a much lower incidence of allergic reaction than the older “ionic” contrast.

What are common side effects of the Intravenous CT Contrast Injection?
The most common side effect is a warm sensation during the injection and a "metallic" taste in the mouth. These are only passing sensations and usually last less than a minute or so. For some patients, itching or hives (bumps on the skin) may occur and can last from several minutes to several hours after the injection. This can be treated with medication at the time of the exam or after by the referring physician. More serious reactions, although rare, may include breathing difficulty or swelling and are treated immediately.

Am I a high-risk candidate for the Intravenous CT Contrast Injection?
If you have a history of allergies, diabetes, asthma, or kidney problems, or suffer from a heart or thyroid condition, you could be predisposed to a higher risk of reactions or complications following the IV. Please inform our technologist prior to your exam at which time we will determine if you will require pre-medication or if we will preclude you from taking the intravenous CT contrast injection.

How long does a CT Scan take?
An actual CT scan typically takes 5-15 minutes. However, patients who are scheduled for abdomen/pelvis CT scans will be required to drink an Oral Contrast Drink up to 2 hours prior. These patients must allow for this 2-hour prep time when scheduling this procedure. For your convenience, patients may can pick up the oral contrast drink prior to the scan rather than drinking it and waiting at the hospital.

What is the Oral Contrast Drink?
The oral contrast drink is for patients who are having for a stomach/bowel CT scan. The barium-based drink essentially “enhances” the gastrointestinal tract so it can be better defined on the CT images.

What happens after my scan?
Once your exam is over, you can resume your normal activities. Increase your fluid intake by 32 oz. and resume your normal diet. Your results will be sent to your referring physician.

Diagnostic Radiology Questions

Is the radiation of an X-ray dangerous?
No. The average amount of radiation a patient is exposed to during an X-ray is extremely low and well within the acceptable recommended amount.

I’m pregnant. Should I still get an X-ray?
Inform the X-ray technologist that you’re pregnant (or even if you think you could be) and your lower abdomen will be protected with a lead apron.

Does the barium drink taste awful?
No. We made sure our barium-based drink is pleasantly flavored.

How long does the barium test last?
A full study takes 3-4 hours. An upper G.I. series takes only 30 minutes.

Aren’t X-rays old-fashioned and “low-tech?”
No. X-rays are a highly accurate, vital, and cost-effective standard of diagnosis, particularly for diseases of the chest and examining bones and joints.

MRI Questions

Please note: patients with pacemakers cannot have an MRI

What makes an MRI different from an X-ray or CT scan?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and does not utilize radiation. Instead, a strong magnetic field and radio waves are combined to create high-quality images of soft tissue which cannot be detected by an X-ray.

Is MRI safe?
Yes. The magnetic field and radio waves pose no health risks or side effects. You will be asked to complete a safety-screening questionnaire before your exam to determine if you the right candidate for MRI .

Is it okay to have an MRI if I’m pregnant or if I breast feed?
MRI is not usually recommended for pregnant women, unless it is medically necessary. If you are pregnant, (or think you might be), please inform your doctor before your exam. If you are not pregnant and breast feed your baby, you should wait 48 hours after the GAD (Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase) injection before resuming breastfeeding.

What does the MRI scanner look like?
It’s a large, wide tube that’s open at both ends and is both bright and well-ventilated. It’s also equipped with a two-way intercom so you can communicate with the technician throughout the procedure.

What happens during the exam?
You will be asked to lie down on a cushioned exam table and the technician will place a “coil” device around the area of your body this is to be scanned. The table will then gently move into the wide tube opening of the scanner until the coil device is in the center of the tube. The tunnel is open at both ends and is bright and well-ventilated. To help you relax, you will hear soothing music. As the exam proceeds, you will hear a knocking sound while the images are being taken. It is critical that you lie still during this part of the exam to ensure image quality. MRIs typically last 30 minutes to 1 hour.

What’s the loud knocking for?
The scanner’s strong magnetic fields build up energy and when this energy is released, it results in loud knocking sounds.

What can I do if I’m claustrophobic?
For most patients, an MRI exam is highly tolerable. If you typically experience anxiety in small, enclosed spaces, please inform your doctor before scheduling your exam. To help you relax, we encourage you to bring your favorite music CD or invite a friend or family member to be right there with you for the exam.

Mammography Questions

I just had a mammogram. Why do I need an additional imaging exam? Do I have cancer?
Often times, additional imaging, such as ultrasound, is required so the radiologist can view the breast more comprehensively. This is just routine and does not automatically mean you have cancer.

Can I have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram?
No. Only mammograms are endorsed by the American College of Radiology as a screening tool for breast imaging. However, ultrasound is an excellent secondary imaging tool that radiologists can use to detect abnormalities in the breast and determine if an area is fluid, a cyst, or a solid nodule.

When should I schedule my first mammogram?
A woman should have her first mammogram when she’s 35-40 years old, and generally every 1-2 years thereafter. Your personal risk factors and family history, as well as your doctor’s recommendation should determine how often you have a mammogram.

How will I get my results?
Our board-certified radiologist will review your mammogram and mail your results to you and your doctor.

Does my mammogram include a breast exam?
No. Breast exams are not performed at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center.

Do I need to bring my previous mammogram films?
Yes. Our radiologist needs to see how this mammogram compares with your previous exams. This allows us to identify any subtle changes as well as eliminate the need for further imaging and even a biopsy.

Are mammo copies the same as original mammos?
No. A mammo copy does not represent the critical standard of detail that an original mammo film does. We strongly encourage you to obtain your original mammo films for our comparison. ACRM Radiology releases original mammo film to our patients once they’ve signed a release. We do not copy mammo films.

Can I wear deodorant or powder to the exam?
We would prefer you didn’t, but if you have, we will simply ask you to use a special hypoallergenic wipe before your exam.

Nuclear Medicine Questions

Is Nuclear Medicine safe?
Yes. The average amount of radiation a patient is exposed to during a nuclear medicine test is extremely low and is comparable to that of an X-ray.

What will I experience during my exam?
Prior to your exam, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire. The technologist will explain the procedure to you in detail and answer any questions that you might have. At this time, you will be given a small amount of a radioactive tracer, which may be injected or swallowed. Depending on the kind of study you are having, the imaging portion of your exam may begin immediately or may be scheduled for several hours or even days later. Patients who are required to return at a later time will be instructed exactly when they should return and if they can eat or drink in the interim. It is imperative that patients are not late upon their return as that may put the integrity of their exam at risk. For the imaging process, you will be asked to lie on the exam table. A technician will position a special camera over the part of your body to be scanned. It is essential that are as still as possible during the scanning. The technician may place you in one or two different positions during the exam and will readjust the camera accordingly.

What happens after my exam?
Once your exam is over, you can resume your normal activities.

Ultrasound Questions

Please Note: 3D Ultrasound is available at the Pavilion at the Park and in Perinatology

What is ultrasound?
Ultrasound, or sonography, is an imaging process that utilizes high frequency sound waves instead of radiation as is used for X-rays. The sound waves form echo patterns that are especially valuable in producing such images as superficial body structures or a developing fetus.

What is ultrasonography used for?
Ultrasounds are used to detect and evaluate such events as early-stage diseases of abdominal organs, tumors and abnormalities of reproductive organs, egg maturation, early pregnancy, and fetus position and development.

What are the drawbacks of ultrasounds?
Since ultrasounds use soundwaves to “bounce” off hard objects such as bones, the echo patterns they form can only depict soft tissue and therefore have limited applications in regions such as the skull.

Is sonography safe?
Yes, it is safe for both the mother and the unborn fetus. It is painless and no harmful effects have ever been reported.

What is 3D sonography?
3-Dimensional display of superficial body structures, such as a fetal spine.

What is Color Doppler?
Color-encoded sonography that allows us to see blood flow in variations of color.

What is endovaginal sonography?
A high-resolution endovaginal probe is inserted into the vagina to create a sonogram of the uterus and ovaries.  

Is dating and weight estimation of a fetus 100% accurate?
No. They are just estimates based on statistical data of the baby’s size.

Upper GI Series Questions

What is the purpose of a GI series?
For patients who are experiencing difficulty swallowing, or have heartburn, acid reflux, abdominal discomfort, bleeding, or anemia, a GI series reveals upper gastrointestinal tract diseases or conditions.

Is a GI exam safe?
Yes. Our state-of-the-art Digital Fluoroscopy unit allows us to perform fluoroscopy studies using the highest resolution and image quality at lower doses of radiation. We can also adjust the brightness and contrast of the images on screen, thus limiting repeated exposures to the patient. If you are pregnant, (or think you might be), please inform our staff prior to your exam.

How will I feel after my GI exam?
There are no side effects. You may resume normal activity immediately following your exam.

What is barium?
A chalky-flavored liquid that is swallowed by the patient so that various parts of the digestive tract will be “outlined” on the X-ray. It is often used in the study of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Additionally, barium may be introduced via an enema, as is often used in the study of the large bowel. Barium is an inert solution that passes through the body, not absorbed.

What is a barium enema?
A radiographic exam that allows us to properly X-ray the large intestine and colon. This procedure is especially valuable as a screening tool for patients who have a family history of colon cancer. It’s also helpful in diagnosing certain diseases or conditions for patients who are experiencing unexplained weight loss, changes in their bowel habits, pain, anemia, or bleeding.

What happens during a barium enema exam?
Prior to your exam, your technologist will ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history, and answer any questions that you may have. The procedure will begin with an X-ray of your abdomen. Next, a small catheter is inserted into the rectum and the barium solution is administered, filling the large intestine. During the procedure, you will be asked to change your position or hold your breath so certain images can be taken. The exam is considered moderately uncomfortable. Side effects for some include cramping and bloating.

How long does a Barium Enema exam last?
With prep and x-rays, the entire exam lasts about an hour. The enema itself takes about twenty minutes.

Is a Barium Enema exam safe?
Yes. Our state-of-the-art Digital Fluoroscopy unit allows us to perform fluoroscopy studies using the highest resolution and image quality at lower doses of radiation. We can also adjust the brightness and contrast of the images on screen, thus limiting repeated exposures to the patient. If you are pregnant, (or think you might be), please inform our staff prior to your exam.

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