Our Services, What to Expect and How to Prepare

Lancaster General Health offers a wide variety of diagnostic imaging and radiology procedures. Discover more information about what you can expect during these procedures by selecting an item below.

CT Scan

What is a CT Scan?

A computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to make detailed pictures of structures inside of the body such as the chest, belly, pelvis, or an arm or leg. It can take pictures of body organs, such as the liver, pancreas, intestines, kidneys, bladder, adrenal glands, lungs, and heart. It also can study blood vessels, bones, and the spinal cord.

What to Expect

You will lie on your back on a scan table that slides into the scanning machine. The technologist may use pillows or straps to prevent movement. If your doctor has ordered a contrast scan, contrast dye will be injected into an IV line in your hand or arm, or you will drink a liquid contrast preparation. You may feel flushed, have a salty or metallic taste in your mouth or have other sensations. These usually pass in a few minutes. Tell the technician if you have any difficulty breathing, sweating, numbness or heart palpitations.

During the scan, the technologist will be in another room, but will be able to see you, and you will be able to communicate through speakers inside the scanner. The scanner will rotate around you, making clicking sounds as X-rays pass through your body. You must lie very still, and you may be asked to hold your breath for short periods. The test usually lasts from five minutes to half an hour.

How to Prepare

Most CT scans don’t require any special preparation. If you are having a contrast CT, your doctor may tell you to fast for a certain period of time before the procedure. Be sure to tell your doctor and the technologist if you could be pregnant or if you have ever had a reaction to contrast material.

DXA Scan

What is a DXA Scan?

A DXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan is the most accurate way to measure bone density. It uses two different X-ray beams to estimate bone density in your spine and hip. Strong, dense bones allow less of the X-ray beam to pass through them. The amounts of each X-ray beam that are blocked by bone and soft tissue are compared to each other.

What to Expect

You will lie on your back on a scan table. You can usually keep your street clothes on. You won’t feel anything as the machine scans your bones. The test usually takes about 20 minutes.

How to Prepare

Wear clothes without metal buttons or buckles that could interfere with the scan. You may also need to remove any jewelry. Be sure to tell your doctor and the technologist if you could be pregnant.

Fluoroscopy

What is a Fluoroscopy?

A Fluoroscopy is a type of diagnostic imaging that shows a continuous X-ray image on a monitor, like an X-ray movie. An X-ray beam is passed through the body during the procedure.

What to Expect

Fluoroscopy can be used with different procedures. Generally, you will lie on a table. An IV line will be inserted into your hand or arm. A contrast dye may be injected into this line to provide a clearer picture. For procedures that require a catheter, an additional line may be inserted in the groin, elbow or other site. A special scanner will generate the fluoroscopic images, which the radiologist can view on a TV monitor. If you had a catheter inserted, you may need to remain immobile for several hours after the procedure.

How to Prepare

The specific type of procedure being done will determine whether you need any special preparation. Your doctor should give you pre-procedure instructions.

Mammogram

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that is used to screen for breast cancer. Mammograms can find tumors that are too small for you or your doctor to feel.

What to Expect

You will need to take off your clothes above the waist, and you will be given a cloth or paper gown to use during the test. If you are concerned about an area of your breast, show the technologist so that the area can be noted.

For a standard or digital mammogram, you usually stand during the test. One at a time, your breasts will be placed on a flat plate. Another plate is then pressed firmly against your breast to help flatten out the breast tissue. Very firm compression is needed to obtain high-quality pictures.

For a 3-D mammogram, you will also stand, and your breast will be positioned on a flat plate. The top plate is pressed against your breast with just enough pressure to keep the breast in position while the X-ray tube moves around the breast. Many images are taken in a very short time. A computer is used to combine these images to create a 3-dimensional picture of the breast.

How to Prepare

On the day of the mammogram, do not use any deodorant, perfume, powders, or ointments on your breasts. The residue left on your skin by these substances may interfere with the X-rays. You will need to remove any jewelry that might interfere with the X-ray picture. 

MRI

Note: MRI services are provided by MRI Group, a partnership between Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health and Lancaster Radiology Associates, Ltd.

What is a MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body. In many cases, MRI gives different information about structures in the body than can be seen with an X-ray, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan. MRI also may show problems that cannot be seen with other imaging methods.

What to Expect

For an MRI test, the area of the body being studied is placed inside a special machine that contains a strong magnet. You will be given a gown to use during the test depending on which area is examined.

During the test, you usually lie on your back on a table that is part of the MRI scanner. Your head, chest, and arms may be held with straps to help you remain still. The table will slide into the space that contains the magnet. A device called a coil may be placed over or wrapped around the area to be scanned. A special belt strap may be used to sense your breathing or heartbeat. This triggers the machine to take the scan at the right time.

How to Prepare

Before your MRI test, tell your doctor and the MRI technologist if you:

  • You will need to remove all metal objects (such as hearing aids, dentures, jewelry, watches, coins and hairpins) from your body because these objects may be attracted to the powerful magnet used for the test. You should also empty your pockets of any cards (such as credit cards or ATM cards) with scanner strips on them because the MRI magnet may erase the information on the cards.
  • Have a health condition, such as diabetes, sickle cell anemia, or kidney problems. You may need to change your medicine schedule. And some conditions may prevent you from having an MRI using contrast material.
  • Are or might be pregnant.
  • Have any metal implanted in your body, such as heart and blood vessel devices such as a coronary artery stent, a pacemaker, an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator), metal heart valve, metal pins, clips, artificial limbs and dental work or braces.
 

Nuclear Medicine

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine scans use a special camera (gamma) to take pictures of tissues, organs, bones, glands and blood vessels in the body after a radioactive tracer (radionuclide or radioisotope) is put in a vein in the arm and is absorbed by the tissues and organs. The radioactive tracer shows the activity and function of the tissues or organs. The tracer remains in the body temporarily before it is passed in the urine or stool (feces).

What to Expect

For all Nuclear Medicine tests, a radiopharmaceutical must be administered in order to perform the test. Depending on the type of test, the radiopharmaceutical may be injected, swallowed or inhaled as a gas. The amount of time it takes to reach its target varies. The imaging may be done immediately, or not until hours or days later. During the actual exam, you will lie on an examination table. You will be asked to lie still while the camera captures images; in between, you may be asked to change position. Scanning time can range from approximately 20 minutes to several hours. The test may be conducted over multiple days.

How to Prepare

Your doctor should give you specific instructions based on the type of scan you are receiving. In general, tell your physician and the technologist about any medications or supplements you are taking, any recent illnesses or medical conditions. Women should tell the doctor and technologist if they could be pregnant or are breastfeeding. Tell your doctor and the technologist if you become uncomfortable in tight spaces, as the camera may come very close to your body. Remove jewelry and metal accessories or leave them at home.

PET.CT Scan

What is a PET.CT Scan?

A PET.CT scan combines both computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) into one machine. A PET.CT scan shows information about both the structure and function of cells and tissues in the body in the duration of a single imaging session.

What to Expect

A technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line for the injection of the radionuclide. It takes about 60 minutes for the radionuclide to reach the target organ or tissue. You will need to lie quietly during that time. Before the exam begins, you will be asked to empty your bladder. During the exam, you will lie on the scanner bed. You will move in and out of the PET.CT scanner, which looks like a large doughnut, several times. After the test, you can return to your normal activities. You should drink several glasses of water to flush the radionuclide out of your body.

How to Prepare

Your doctor should give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your PET.CT scan. In general, tell your physician and the technologist about any medications or supplements you are taking, any recent illnesses or medical conditions. Women should tell the doctor and technologist if they could be pregnant or are breastfeeding. Tell your doctor and the technologist if you become uncomfortable in tight spaces, as the camera may come very close to your body. Remove jewelry and metal accessories or leave them at home. Hydrate with 2 glasses of water before coming in for your test.

PET/CT Skull Base to Mid-Thigh (FDG):

Twenty-four hours prior to your scan:

  1. Avoid foods containing sugar and carbohydrates. This means no sweets, bread, cereal, pasta, rice, fruit, potatoes, corn, or milk.
  2. You may have meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and most vegetables. Peanuts are allowed as a snack, but not peanut butter.
  3. Avoid beverages containing sugar. You may have black coffee, diet soda, unsweetened tea, or water.
  4. Do not engage in any exercise, other than walking.

Six hours prior to your scan:

  1. No food or drink (other than water) is allowed. This is very important.
  2. You may not chew gum.
  3. You may take any pill that does not require to be taken with food.
  4. You may drink as much water as you would like. In fact, we ask you to drink one to two glasses of water prior to reporting for your scan.
  5. If you are diabetic there are special instructions for this exam. Please call 717-544-3041 for these instructions.

PET/CT Whole Body (FDG):

Follow the same instructions as PET/CT Skull Base to MID-Thigh

PET/CT Brain Metabolic Evaluation (FDG)

Follow the same instructions as PET/CT Skull Base to MID-Thigh

PET/CT Sodium Fluoride Bone Scan (NaF):

  1. Drink 2 glasses of water prior to your arrival time. No other preparation is needed.

PET/CT Axumin for Prostate Tumor Imaging (Fluciclovine):

  1. No food or drink 4 hours prior to appointment time (small amounts of water are permissible.)
  2. 24 hours prior to your appointment time do not engage in any exercise, other than walking.

PET/CT Gallium Dotatate Tumor Imaging (Ga68 Dotatate):

  1. Drink 2 glasses of water prior to your arrival time.
  2. If you are receiving short-acting somatostatin  medications, discontinue taking these medications for 24 hours prior to your appointment time. You should check with your physician prior to stopping these medications.
  3. If you are receiving long-acting somatostatin medication injections, which usually occur once month, it is best to schedule the PET/CT scan one to two days prior to your next scheduled medication injection.

Sahara Heel Scan

What is a Sahara Heel Scan?

The Sahara bone sonometer is a type of ultrasound used to determine a patient’s risk for osteoporosis. It measures the bone mineral density in the heel. The heel bone is similar to the hip bone, one of the bones that breaks most often. The test determines risk of bone fracture by comparing the patient’s bone density to the bone density of a healthy young adult. The Sahara heel scan does not involve any radiation exposure. It is often used to determine who needs further evaluation and testing.

What to Expect

You will sit down and place a bare foot in the scanner. An ultrasound probe on either side of your foot will transmit painless sound waves through the heel in order to determine bone density.

How to Prepare

No special preparations are necessary for a Sahara Heel Scan. Do not wear pantyhose, because you will need to remove your shoe and sock from one foot for the scan.

Ultrasound

What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound, or sonogram, uses painless, high-frequency sound waves to allow doctors to examine organs and tissues. Ultrasounds can be performed on different types of the body such as the abdomen, breast, pelvis, head and more. Similar to sonar or radar, the waves reflect back to create an image of the organ or other structure being examined. Unlike an X-ray, an ultrasound does not require any exposure to radiation. Doppler ultrasound can measure the speed and other characteristics of blood flow. Duplex ultrasound combines both traditional ultrasound and Doppler ultrasound.

What to Expect

Depending on which body part is being examined, you may be asked to remove your clothes and be given a gown to wear. During the test, you will sit or lie on an examining table. The technologist will spread a clear, water-based gel over the area to be tested, and then slide a wand, called a transducer, over the spot. You will remain still during the exam. You may be asked to change position or hold your breath.

How to Prepare

Most ultrasounds don’t require any special preparation. If you are having an ultrasound of your abdomen, your doctor may tell you to fast for a certain period of time before the procedure.

X-Ray

What is an X-ray?

X-rays are a form of radiation, like light or radio waves, that are focused into a beam, much like a flashlight beam. Types of X-rays include abdominal, chest, extremity, as well as other parts of the body. X-rays make a picture by striking a detector that either exposes a film or sends the picture to a computer. Dense tissues in the body, such as bones, block (absorb) many of the X-rays and look white on an X-ray picture. Less dense tissues, such as muscles and organs, block fewer of the X-rays (more of the X-rays pass through) and look like shades of gray on an X-ray. X-rays that pass mostly through air, such as through the lungs, look black on the picture.

What to Expect

You will need to remove any clothing or jewelry that might interfere with the X-ray, and will be given a gown to wear. Depending on the test, you may be seated, standing or lying on a table. The technologist will position the body part to be examined between the X-ray machine and the imaging plate. The technologist may use a lead shield to cover body parts that are not being X-rayed to avoid additional radiation exposure. When the technologist takes the picture, you must remain very still, and you may be asked to hold your breath for short periods. The technologist may take several images, sometimes from different angles.

How to Prepare

Most X-rays don’t require any special preparation. If you are getting a chest X-ray, wear a two-piece outfit so you can remove your top. Be sure to tell your doctor and the technologist if you could be pregnant or if you have ever had a reaction to contrast material.

Getting Your Results

The technologist is not permitted to discuss test results with you. A radiologist or specialist will interpret the study and forward results to your doctor. 

You may also access your results through our patient portal MyLGHealth.org

Share This Page: