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Imaging services

Imaging exams allow radiologists (imaging specialists) and physicians to view structures and activity within the body. This is vital for diagnosis but also for treatment, to ensure your care plan is working as it should.

Supportive radiology services

We use our suite of imaging services to give you clarity and form the foundation of an effective care plan.

Undergoing diagnostic imaging can be stressful, but in the Mission Health network of hospitals in Western North Carolina, our priority is putting you at ease. Regardless of your test, we work to get your treatment off on the right foot.

Schedule Your Mammogram Online

We believe getting quality healthcare should be simple, so we offer online scheduling for some of our women's imaging services. Schedule online now or give us a call at (844) 519-0200.

We believe getting quality healthcare should be simple, so we offer online scheduling for some of our women's imaging services. Schedule online now or give us a call at (844) 519-0200.

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Medical imaging services we offer

Our imaging centers are here for you. We work to understand your symptoms so that we can provide the best imaging test to diagnose your condition.

Types of imaging tests we perform

Throughout our family of facilities, our imaging specialists work collaboratively to provide a consistent, high level of care. Several of our facilities have been designated as Diagnostic Imaging Centers of Excellence from the American College of Radiology, and we proudly offer a wide range of both inpatient radiography and outpatient imaging centers. Additionally, our network includes the region's only dedicated pediatric imaging center, so our specially trained pediatric technologists are prepared to diagnose conditions for children of all ages.

Bone scan

Bone scans are diagnostic studies used to evaluate the distribution of active bone formation in your body. This requires an intravenous injection of a radioactive tracer and, depending on the type of scan you receive, the exam can last anywhere between three and five hours. There are four types of bone scans you can receive, including:

  • Limited — Limited bone scans typically target a single body part, such as a foot, hand or skull.
  • Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) — SPECT scans help your doctor see how well your organs function. They also help measure cancer progression in your bones and hidden bone fractures.
  • Three-phase — These tests are often used to diagnose osteoid osteoma, osteomyelitis, acute stress fractures and complex regional pain syndrome.
  • Whole body — This procedure examines your entire body, and is most commonly ordered to detect areas of abnormal bone growth due to fractures, tumors, infection or other bone diseases.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan

CT scans involve a special form of X-ray that uses computer technology to produce cross-sectional images that allow your doctor to see inside your body. The exam typically does not take longer than 15 minutes, and can either be done with an IV contrast, to highlight blood vessels and organs, or without contrast, if those areas are not of immediate concern. For digestive issues, you may also be asked to take an oral contrast for more visibility. Most commonly, we offer one of the following variations of the exam:

  • CT abdomen and pelvis with contrast
  • CT chest with contrast
  • CT chest without contrast
  • CT head without contrast

Dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)

DEXA scans, otherwise known as bone density scans, are alternate types of bone scans that specifically measure calcium levels, as well as the thickness and strength of your bones. During the 30 minute exam, a low-dose X-ray beam passes through your hips and spine to detect the presence of osteopenia or osteoporosis, conditions in which your bones become thinner and more subject to breakage. Osteoporosis most commonly affects women over the age of 65.

Endoscopy

Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure performed by a gastroenterologist to look at your upper digestive system. Using a tiny camera attached to the end of a long, flexible tube, it is typically used when you are experiencing stomach or digestive tract issues. The camera allows your doctor to visually examine and treat conditions of the esophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine (duodenum).

As a result of the procedure, your doctor may use collected tissue samples to test for anemia, bleeding, inflammation, diarrhea or cancers of the digestive system. Additionally, an endoscopy can help them find out what's causing symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing and gastrointestinal bleeding. It can also allow them to remove polyps or foreign objects in the upper digestive tract, as well as treat bleeding in the esophagus or stomach.

Gastric emptying study

This diagnostic procedure is performed to evaluate gastric motor function. In most cases, a radioactive tracer is incorporated into a standard meal (typically oatmeal), and the stomach contents are photographed over time. Computer analysis of the data can determine the percent of retained contents in one-to-four hours, as well as the time for the stomach contents to empty by one half.

Initial imaging takes around 15 minutes, while follow-up imaging takes place at one-hour intervals for four hours, with each imaging session taking between five and ten minutes.

Hepatobilliary imaging (HIDA scan)

This diagnostic study evaluates hepatocellular (liver) function, as well as the patency of the biliary system, which includes the gallbladder and bile ducts in and around your liver. During the scan, a radioactive tracer is injected intravenously and imaged as it is processed by the liver and biliary system. Normally, we visualize the liver, the biliary ductal system, gall bladder and the small bowel.

Pain medication should be discontinued at least four hours prior to the exam, and it should take anywhere between one and four hours.

Interventional radiology (IR)

IR is a medical specialty that uses minimally invasive treatments for a variety of conditions, including using radiologic imaging to guide certain procedures. IR treatments offer you less pain, less recovery time and shorter hospital stays, compared to open surgery.

Typically, IR procedures are rooted in fluoroscopy, which makes continuous, real-time X-ray images on a monitor, similar to a movie, by passing an X-ray beam over a particular part of the body.

Depending on the type of procedure, you may be asked to hold your breath for brief periods of time, as motion interferes with obtaining good X-ray images. Contrast dye may also be injected into the IV line in order to better visualize the organs or structures being studied.

Lung scan

Lung scans are used to evaluate the air and the blood flow within your lungs. The exam is completed in two parts, with ventilation done first and the blood flow study done second. It is the combined result that leads to the final diagnosis.

For optimal accuracy, a chest X-ray should be taken within 24 hours prior to the lung scan. A radioactive isotope is required for both phases of the exam, and may be administered while you are either sitting upright or lying down. The isotope for the perfusion scan, however, must be administered while you are lying down. The procedure takes a total time of approximately an hour, with 30 minutes for the ventilation scan and 30 minutes for the perfusion scan.

In addition to traditional lung scans, we also offer and encourage yearly low-dose CT (LDCT) lung screenings. These tests have been shown to save lives by finding lung cancer early, when it is easier to treat. If you are eligible for the exam, LDCT lung screenings are recommended every year until you are 77.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

An MRI exam is a 30-to-45-minute imaging procedure that utilizes a strong magnetic field, radiofrequency pulses and a specialized computer to create detailed images of organs, muscles, nerves, soft tissues and bones within your body. There is no ionizing radiation in an MRI, but some may require an IV contrast agent (gadolinium) injection to give your physician more information for analyzing certain conditions.

At our facilities, MRIs are a key tool in the evaluation and diagnosis of prostate cancer. A multi-parametric MRI provides better images of the prostate through the use of advanced MRI machines and software packages. Our prostate MRI studies are performed in an independent diagnostic testing facility (IDTF) that specializes in providing outpatient MRI exams as a low-cost alternative.

Mammogram

A mammogram is used to detect changes in breast tissue that could indicate a serious condition, such as breast cancer. This is accomplished by using a low-dose X-ray that creates numerous images that can detect certain changes years before they can be felt during a physical breast exam. While the main purpose of a mammogram is to detect cancer, mammography can also detect other, more common, benign conditions, such as cysts and benign masses called fibroadenomas.

Screening mammograms are regularly performed on women who have no symptoms, such as lumps, and who aren’t experiencing any pressing breast issues. Yearly screening mammograms are highly encouraged as you get older, in order to be proactive about your ongoing breast health. Diagnostic mammograms are done when women are experiencing acute symptoms, such as a palpable lump or spontaneous nipple discharge. A referral from your healthcare provider is required for a diagnostic mammogram.

For women with denser breasts, we also offer automated whole-breast ultrasound (ABUS) exams, which use soundwaves to view hundreds of images of internal structures that are not visible on a mammogram. ABUS exams increase the likelihood of diagnosing breast cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage.

We are proud to offer 3D mammography, which has more proven accuracy than traditional, 2D mammograms. 3D mammograms use a combination of 2D and 3D imagery, and are approved for all women undergoing a standard screening or diagnostic mammogram, regardless of age or breast density.

To schedule your mammogram or other imaging service, call us at (828) 213-9729

Nuclear medicine

Nuclear medicine provides safe and useful methods of obtaining functional information about various bodily organs. Like other imaging tests, nuclear medicine involves an IV-injected radioactive tracer. The location of the tracer can be detected using a gamma camera, which does not emit any radiation, but detects the radiation coming from you. Nuclear medicine is typically used to determine how much a cancer has spread throughout the body, while also evaluating the effectiveness of current treatments.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

PET scans are used to assess the overall function of organs and tissues to detect potential cancers, heart diseases and brain disorders. Using an IV-injected radioactive tracer, a PET scan can often detect abnormalities before they appear on other imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs. The difference between a PET scan and an MRI or CT scan is that PET scans are able to evaluate not only organ structure, but blood flow to and from them. However, machines that combine the PET and CT images, called a PET/CT, are commonly used. We typically use one of the following types of PET scans:

  • Axumin whole body PET/CT — This test is used to check for prostate cancer.
  • Brain PET/CT scan — These are employed for assessing the effects of seizures, progressive dementia and brain metastasis.
  • Radium-223 treatment — This treatment is only used for castration-resistant prostate cancer and symptomatic bone metastases.
  • Total body PET/CT — When needing to assess your whole body for the potential diagnosis, staging, and restaging of cancer, total body PET/CT can paint a full picture.
  • Whole body bone PET/CT — If cancer has spread to your bones, these tests are effective in detecting and evaluating bone metastases.

Thyroid scan

This two-day diagnostic study is used to examine the structure and function of your thyroid gland, as well as to find any potential thyroid gland nodules. Day one of the exam consists of swallowing an iodine-123 (I-123) capsule, which contains iodide that will measure the overall metabolism and kinetics of iodine in the thyroid gland. When you return for day two, you will sit in front of a machine that counts the I-123 that was absorbed by the thyroid gland in the 24-hour period, which only takes a few minutes. Your care team will then take four images of the thyroid gland.

Thyroid medications must be held before the exam has started. Depending on which medication you are taking, if any, you may have to stop taking your medication anywhere between one and four weeks beforehand.

Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are non-invasive procedures that use sound waves to view internal structures in real time, including organs and blood vessels. There is no radiation exposure during an ultrasound exam, as the sound waves are produced by a transducer and directed into the body where they bounce off organs and tissues. This process creates echoes that are reflected back to the transducer.

In addition to viewing internal organ and blood vessel function, ultrasounds are used to allow pregnant women to view the status of their unborn children, as well as men to view the scrotal area when complications arise. Ultrasounds are usually employed to evaluate pain, swelling and infection, and can also act as guides for surgeons during a procedure, as well as radiologists conducting biopsies. Depending on your exam, ultrasound exams can last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

Mission Breast Center: Early Detection Affects One In Every You

Early detection of breast cancer increases the likelihood of positive outcomes by thirty percent.

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