X-rays are like medical photographs and are used to assess bones, joints and large body areas like the chest or abdomen. These pictures are produced by exposure to a controlled X-ray beam taken by a radiographer. They are are stored in digital format and displayed on a computer screen for your radiologist to report, and your specialist to review.
Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves generated in a hand held probe, to create pictures of internal structures.
The scan is performed by a Consultant Radiologist with specialist training in the technique.
Both still and moving images are stored, and blood flow can be demonstrated too.
Contrast enhanced ultrasound is a relatively new technique which can be used to evaluate abnormalities in the liver, kidneys and other organs, that may have previously required a CT or MRI scan.
Ultrasound has a very wide range of applications from monitoring pregnancy, investigating abdominal pain, and is also used for targeting biopsies and drainage procedures.
Below is a summary of the main imaging modalities used to investigate patients.
After a referral from your specialist or GP, we will decide on the most appropriate method of imaging. We will then provide a timely report to allow a diagnosis or decisions regarding your condition to be made.
We also provide diagnostic and therapeutic radiologically guided procedures such as biopsy and fluid drainage.
We offer appointments throughout the week for most scans and procedures.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses a very strong magnetic field, and radiowaves to create a series of slice images of many parts of the body. These detailed images can show internal organs such as the brain, bowel or liver, as well as investigating possible tumours of the ovaries and uterus and prostate in men.
MRI is an extremely safe procedure. No radiation is involved, but because of the magnetic field some patients with a pacemaker, artificial heart valves or other implants may not be able to have MRI, and alternative imaging investigations can usually be arranged.
CT (Computed Tomography) uses a rotating X-ray to generate a series of images which can be displayed in any plane. This can help review many tissues and organs in the body, as part of investigations for cancer, as well as to investigate many other conditions.
The use of radiation does carry a very small risk to health and so is only used when necessary. The use of CT for diagnosis is likely to be of greater benefit than this very small risk in most patients, but we are happy to discuss any concerns.
Ultrasound, CT and X ray can be used to very accurately place needles within organs or masses to obtain a biopsy or drain fluid, with real-time visualisation of the needle.
One of the commonest procedures, pictured below is a liver biopsy which may be recommended to investigate liver disease. Other procedures included prostate biopsy, nephrostomy drainage for kidney obstruction, fluid drainage from the abdomen, and biopsy of abdominal masses.
The advantages include: a very low risk of complications, short recovery time with most procedures performed as day cases in the radiology department, and a very small 'pinhole' incision used to perform the procedure.
Ultrasound guided needle biopsy of the liver (needle is the white line)