Dr. Lee & Esther Ellman Center for Imaging
All of our diagnostic imaging options can be found in the Dr. Lee &
Esther Ellman Center for Imaging, including one of the most technologically
advanced MRIs on the market. The Center also has bone densitometry, ultrasound
and X-Ray units and provides patients with the added benefit of undergoing
all of their imaging needs under one roof.
What is a Bone Density Scan (DXA)?
Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA)
or bone densitometry, is an enhanced form of x-ray technology that is
used to measure bone loss. DXA is today's established standard for measuring
bone mineral density (BMD).
DXA is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that often
affects women after menopause, but may also be found in men. Osteoporosis
involves a gradual loss of calcium, as well as structural changes, causing
the bones to become thinner, more fragile, and more likely to break. DXA
is also effective in tracking the effects of treatment for osteoporosis
and other conditions that cause bone loss. The DXA test can also access
an individual's risk for developing fractures. The risk of fracture is
affected by age, body weight, history of prior fracture, family history
of osteoporotic fractures and life style issues such as cigarette smoking
and excessive alcohol consumption. These factors are taken into consideration
when deciding if a patient needs therapy.
This exam is performed by a radiologic technologist and typically takes
about 20 minutes. After the technologist has reviewed your medical history,
you will be asked to lay flat on the table. You must hold very still and
may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the x-ray
picture is taken to reduce the possibility of a blurred image. The technologist
will walk behind a wall or into the next room to activate the x-ray machine.
Bone density tests are a quick and painless procedure. Most insurance
companies allow a patient to have one DXA scan every two years however
there are instances when they can be done sooner.
How should I prepare for a Bone Density Exam?
On the day of the exam you may eat normally. You should not take calcium
supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam. You should wear loose,
comfortable clothing, avoiding garments that have zippers, belts or buttons
made of metal. Objects such as keys or wallets that would be in the area
being scanned should be removed. You may be asked to remove some of your
clothing and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to
remove jewelry, removable dental appliances, eye glasses and any metal
objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.
It is important to inform the scheduler if you recently had a barium examination
or have been injected with a contrast material for a computed tomography
(CT) scan or nuclear medicine scan. These items can cause artifacts on
your images so you will have to wait 10 to 14 days before undergoing a
DXA test to ensure we perform the best scan possible. Also, women should
always inform their physician and x-ray technologist if there is any possibility
that they are pregnant.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio
waves to make pictures of the breast. MRI may show problems in the breast
that cannot be seen on a mammogram, ultrasound, or CT scan. The MRI creates
image that show your breast's normal structure as well as demonstrates
any abnormal tissue. In most cases, a dye (contrast material) may be used
so that abnormalities can be seen more clearly from normal breast tissue.
The contrast material makes it easier to find problems. MRI is a safe
and valuable test for looking at the breast. You will not have pain from
the magnetic field or radio waves. The table you lie on may feel hard
and the room may be cool. Some people feel anxious (claustrophobic) inside
the MRI machine. Your physician may prescribe medicine (sedative) to help
An MRI technologist will perform your exam. Before your MRI, the technologist
will review your medical history and explain the test to you in great
detail. You will need to remove all metal objects (such as hearing aids,
dentures, jewelry, watches, and hairpins) from your body because these
objects may be attracted to the powerful magnet used for the test. You
will need to take off your clothes above the waist and any other clothing
that may be metal on it. You will be given a gown to cover your shoulders
during the test.
During the test, you will lie on your stomach on a table that is part
of the MRI scanner. The table will slide into the machine part that holds
the magnet. Your breasts will be placed in a device called a coil that
issued to pick up the MRI signals. Inside the scanner, you will hear tapping
or thumping noises as the MRI scans are taken. You will be given earplugs
or headphones with music to lessen the noise. It is very important to
hold completely still while the scan is being done. Otherwise, repeat
scans may be needed. Also, you may be asked to hold your breath for short
periods of time. During the test, the technologist is right outside the
door and is watching you through a window. They will be able to hear you
and you can talk to her through a speaker.
How should you prepare for your MRI?
Tell your doctor and the MRI technologist if you:
- Have a pacemaker, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), artificial
limb, any metal parts in your body, tattooed eyeliner or metallic-based
tattoos, or any other implanted medical device, such as a medicine infusion
pump. Also, tell your doctor if you have worked around metal or if you
have recently had surgery on a blood vessel. In some cases you may not
be able to have the MRI test
- Are or might be pregnant
- Become very nervous in confined spaces
- Have allergies, especially to any medicines
- Have asthma
- Wear any medicine patches
- Have other health problems, such as kidney problems or sickle cell anemia.
Contrast material cannot be used with some health problems.