What is Diagnostic Imaging?


At Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital, we are fortunate to have a diagnostic imaging department. This department consists of General and Surgical Radiology services, as well as MRI and CT services. The department’s 2 MRI scanners and CT scanner allow our physicians to see a more detailed picture of the organs, ligaments, tendons and tissues that may be injured or affected by an injury.

What is the difference between an MRI and CT scan?

An MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Image, is a large cylindrical device that accommodates the patient during imaging. Unlike a CT, the MRI magnet has no moving parts and does not use radiation. The only things that move are electrons and protons in a strong magnetic field during the image acquisition, just as its name suggests. With an MRI, images are taken via “slices” and show a detailed cross-section of the anatomy.

A CT, or Computerized Tomography, is a small cylindrical device that uses radiation during imaging.  The patient table and the CT gantry (the fixed unit in the CT room) move during imaging, exposing the patient to radiation at the region of interest.

Contrast media can be used to aid the radiologists in differentiating between soft tissues within the affected area.

No matter what kind of scan you receive, the images are read by our radiologists and quickly turned around to your physician to speed up your diagnosis and treatment.

What types of injuries are appropriate for an MRI or CT scan?

Our physicians may order these scans for multiple reasons. MRI scans are often recommended in the evaluation of bones, joints, ligaments, cartilage, tendons soft tissue and muscle. CT scans are more ideal for trauma, chest, abdominal and pelvis, and fracture healing.

For MRI, patients are screened for safety precautions before scanning. Because the MRI machine is a very powerful magnet, we must ensure everyone’s safety. Patients who have pacemakers or internal defibrillators are not recommended to have MRI’s. Candidates who have had non-ferrous joint replacements can take advantage of the MRI scanner.

Our whole body MRI scanner is the traditional full tube, where patients are surrounded by the machine. We provide headphones that play music, as directed by the FDA. We also have an extremity MRI scanner, which allows for a comfortable seated position. This scanner works best for wrist, finger, hand, elbow and ankle scans.

For CT scans, patients are assessed before scanning. Some CT exams require a patient to prepare for the CT scan, but not all CT imaging requires a prep. Unlike MRI, there are not metallic implant concerns.

What if I’m claustrophobic?

Even patients who suffer from claustrophobia can be scanned using the whole body machine. Make sure to notify your provider and discuss solutions.

What can I expect during my appointment?

CT scans usually last about 30 minutes, and MRI’s usually last about 45 minutes.

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. If you are a woman, you may want to consider wearing an athletic bra or tank top. We recommend you also wear layers, as the temperature is not regulated in the procedure. Please leave any electronics, including cell phones and MP3 players, at your home. A locker is also provided to store your belongings during the exam.

As with any procedure, discuss your medical history and any concerns with your physician before your appointment. To learn more about diagnostic imaging, please visit www.neorthohospital.com/our-services/diagnostic-imaging.

What is Diagnostic Imaging?

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