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Diagnostic imaging

Using state-of-the-art technologies, diagnostic imaging (radiology) services at Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) provide critical details to help physicians diagnose, assess and treat many medical conditions. Advanced technologies enable physicians to view deep inside the body with amazing clarity.

For example, today's technologies enable physicians to:

  • Watch blood flowing through blood vessels, to precisely locate blockages.
  • Distinguish between benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumors and growths.
  • Measure bone density and analyze bone injury.

Our imaging services include:

CT scan

CT scanning at Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) is offered for both adult and pediatric patients. CT scanning can be useful for viewing internal organs and structures, tissues, bones and tumors.

What is CT?

CT stands for computed (or computerized) tomography. This procedure also is sometimes called computerized axial tomography, or CAT, scan. A CT is a diagnostic procedure that uses special x-ray equipment to view inside the body. The CT offers more detail than a standard x-ray, because it provides cross-sectional pictures of the organ or structure. At LRH, we use a 64-slice, state-of-the-art CT scanner.

Our services

CT scans are performed on an outpatient basis and on an inpatient basis for hospitalized patients. CT also may be performed for patients in the hospital's Emergency Department, including trauma patients (after a car accident, for example).

CT imaging services include:

  • CT scanning of head and body.
  • CT guided biopsy—to assess benign and malignant tumors.
  • CT angiography—to diagnose any vascular conditions.

Appointments

Please call 218.736.8341 to schedule a CT procedure. A physician order is required.

DEXA scan

DEXA scanning at LRH is offered for adults. DEXA scanning can be useful for detecting bone loss or osteoporosis.

What is a DEXA scan?

Bone densitometry, using an advance technology called DEXA (short for dual energy x-ray absorptiometry), safely, accurately and painlessly measures bone density and the mineral content of bone. During a DEXA scan, the patient lies comfortably still on a padded table while the DEXA unit scans one or more areas, usually the fracture-prone spine or the hip.

Are you at risk?

Are you...?

  • Light-skinned.
  • Thin or small-framed.
  • Approaching or past menopause.
  • Milk-intolerant or have a low calcium intake.
  • A cigarette smoker or drink alcohol in excess.
  • Taking thyroid medication or steriod-based drugs for asthma, arthritis or cancer.

Do you have...?

  • A family history of osteoporosis.
  • Chronic intestinal disorders.
  • A sedentary lifestyle.

Your chances of developing osteoporosis are greater if you are female and answer yes to any of these questions.

Our services

DEXA scans are performed on an outpatient basis. To prepare for a DEXA scan,

  • Unless instructed otherwise by your provider, eat normally on the day of the exam; but avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours prior to your appointment.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Sweat suits and other casual attire without zippers, buttons, grommets or any metal are preferred.
  • You should not have a had a barium study, radioisotope injection, or oral or intravenous contrast material from a CT or MRI exam within seven days prior to your DEXA test.

Appointments

Please call 218.736.8341 to schedule a DEXA procedure. A physician order is required.

Diagnostic x-ray

Diagnostic x-ray at LRH is offered for both adult and pediatric patients. X-ray imaging can be useful for viewing internal organs and structures, tissues, bones and tumors.

What is diagnostic x-ray?

An x-ray is electromagnetic energy with a very short wavelength. Body parts exposed to x-rays absorb the energy (radiation) differently, depending on their density and composition. This allows doctors to see differences in various parts of your body. As a result, bones will appear white, soft tissues will be gray and air in the lungs will be black.

Common diagnostic x-ray studies

  • Fluoroscopy (for example, upper gastrointestinal or colon).
  • Cystography.
  • Spine exams.
  • Chest x-rays.
  • Abdominal studies.
  • Extremities (arms, legs).

Before the test

Your doctor or our staff will provide specific instructions to prepare you. Different exams require different preparation. There is no preparation for a routine x-ray exam. Wear loose-fitting clothes without zippers, buttons, clasps or any metal. It is best not to wear jewelry, since you will be asked to remove it. If you are scheduled for a diagnostic x-ray that requires a contrast agent, such as barium or iodine, you may be restricted from eating before the test.

During the test

You may be given a gown to change into or asked to expose the area of your body under study. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses and any metal objects that can interfere with the x-ray image. Depending on the exam, you may be given a contrast agent to drink, or it may be administered intravenously or by enema. The technologist will position you in the x-ray room and instruct you to remain very still while he/she takes the necessary views. You will not feel anything different while the x-rays are being taken. The entire process can take anywhere from a few minutes for simple bone x-rays to an hour or more for procedures involving a contrast agent.

After the test

After most x-rays, patients are released to resume normal activities. If you receive a contrast agent prior to your exam, you may be given special instructions regarding food and drink to help flush the contrast from your body. Nursing mothers who receive contrast materials may be advised not to breastfeed for a few days. If the site of an IV injection becomes swollen, red or painful after one to two days, call your doctor.

Appointments

Most diagnostic x-rays are not scheduled. A physician order is required. Exams that require fluoroscopy need to be scheduled. Please call 218.736.8341 to schedule an x-ray procedure.

Mammography

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. Mammograms use a very low dose of radiation to help detect tumors, masses, calcifications and other abnormalities in the breast.

Usually, screening mammograms are performed routinely on women over age 40 with no apparent symptoms of breast cancer (such as annually or every other year). Diagnostic mammograms may be recommended when more in-depth study is needed (for example, when a lump can be felt). Compared to the screening mammogram, the diagnostic mammogram will take a greater number of x-rays to look for unusual masses. Ultrasound is commonly used as a follow-up to mammography.

A minimally invasive breast biopsy may be a next step after diagnostic mammography. The biopsy provides more analysis than the mammogram.

Our comprehensive breast mammography services include routine screening mammograms and more comprehensive diagnostic mammograms.

How to prepare for your procedure

On the day of the exam, please arrive 20 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. Please wear a blouse or top. Do not use deodorant, powder, perfume, creams or lotions on your breast or underarm area. Residue from the products may interfere with mammogram results. The mammogram procedure takes 25 minutes to perform. Depending on the view of your breast to be taken, you will be asked to sit or stand. Some women may experience slight discomfort, but the procedure is not harmful and will not damage breast tissue.

Appointments

Appointments are available on weekdays. Please call 218.736.8341 to schedule a mammogram. A physician referral is required.

MRI

Our MRI services cover head to toe, including the brain, joints, the spinal cord and internal organs. MRI is offered on an outpatient basis, inpatient basis and as part of emergency care.

What is MRI?

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a noninvasive technique that combines extremely powerful magnets, radio waves and reactions of the body's hydrogen atoms to create images of the body's internal structures. MRI can be used to view organs and soft tissues, including the brain, spinal cord and muscles. It also can be used to distinguish benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tissue by studying variances in how the hydrogen atoms react to radio waves.

MRI is performed within a tunnel-like scanner. Patients must lie very still within the tunnel and will hear a loud noise throughout. Each patient will be given earplugs. We also offer headphones so the patient can listen to music. Although some patients may feel uncomfortable within the enclosure, they will not feel pain from the MRI.

Important safety note

The magnet used for MRI is about 10,000 times stronger than the Earth's natural background magnetism. With such a powerful magnet, it is essential that no metallic objects be in the same room as the MRI. Even small objects like a hairpin, metal zipper or eyeglasses can become projectiles when exposed to a magnet of this intensity. MRI cannot be used for some people who have certain metallic objects in their bodies, such as a cochlear implant, pacemakers and aneurysm clips.

Appointments

Please call 218.736.8341 to schedule an MRI. A physician order is required.

Nuclear medicine

Nuclear medicine at LRH is used to diagnose a broad range of conditions related to the head, body and bones, and organs. Nuclear medicine techniques also may be part of a treatment plan for certain cancers and vascular diseases.

What is nuclear medicine?

Nuclear medicine is an umbrella term for a variety of procedures that use tiny amounts of radioactive substances to create images of internal organs and tissues. The radioactive substances either decay or are excreted within a few days. Nuclear medicine also can be used as a method of treatment. For example, nuclear medicine may be employed to help destroy certain types of cancerous tumors. Nuclear medicine techniques rely on highly sophisticated technology. Isotope therapy is a form of nuclear medicine treatment where radioactive isotopes (radioisotopes) are injected or ingested into the body. These isotopes naturally gravitate to certain organs. For example, radioactive iodine is drawn to the thyroid gland. Radioisotope therapy may be combined with radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells.

Our nuclear medicine services provide a full range of imaging for the brain, organs and joints. These procedures include:

  • SPECT/CT imaging.
  • Isotope therapy.
  • Bone scanning.
  • Cardiac scanning. 

As a diagnostic tool, nuclear medicine may be used to detect cancerous tumors in the organs and bones, aneurysms, blood flow irregularities and blockage in arteries, and malfunctioning of certain organs, such as the thyroid. Nuclear medicine also provides images of certain biochemical functions, including brain activity. As a treatment tool, radioactive substances are sometimes effective in destroying certain types of cancerous tissues.

Appointments

Please call 218.736.8341 to schedule a nuclear medicine procedure at LRH. A physician order is required. Outpatient procedures are scheduled Monday through Friday.

PET/CT scan

PET/CT scanning at LRH provides highly detailed images for fine-tuning diagnoses of cancers.

What is PET/CT?

PET (positron emission tomography)/CT is a diagnostic process that detects tiny amounts of radiation to create detailed images. For a PET/CT scan, the patient is first injected with a radioactive substance (which decays within a few days). Lying on a flat table, the person moves in very slow steps through a donut-shaped machine that detects positrons (tiny particles emitted from the radioactive material). The machine takes a series of thin "slice" images, which are then assembled to create a three-dimensional image of the body. PET/CT is a painless, noninvasive procedure, yet it provides powerful images of the body's biological functions.

Physicians use PET/CT to detect cancers and to assess the effect of cancer therapy.

PET/CT scanning is provided on an outpatient basis. PET/CT scans are performed in a mobile setting on a once-a-week basis. The trailer is parked along the west side of the hospital.

Appointments

Please call 218.736.8341 to schedule a PET/CT scan. A physician order is required.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs and systems within the body.

What is ultrasound?

An ultrasound machine creates images that allow various organs in the body to be examined. The machine sends out high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off body structures. A computer receives these reflected waves and uses them to create a picture. Unlike with an x-ray or CT scan, there is no ionizing radiation exposure with this test.

The test is done in the ultrasound or radiology department. You will be lying down for the procedure. A clear, water-based conducting gel is applied to the skin over the area being examined to help with the transmission of the sound waves. A handheld probe, called a transducer, is moved over the area being examined. You may be asked to change position so that other areas can be examined.

Ultrasound scans are performed on an outpatient basis and on an inpatient basis for hospitalized patients. Ultrasound also may be performed for patients in the hospital's emergency department, including trauma patients (after a car accident, for example).

Ultrasound services include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound.
  • Breast ultrasound.
  • Doppler ultrasound of an arm or a leg.
  • Doppler/ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram).
  • Duplex ultrasound.
  • Pregnancy ultrasound.
  • Testicular ultrasound.
  • Thyroid ultrasound.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Vascular ultrasound.

Appointments

Ultrasound scans are performed at LRH seven days a week. Please call 218.736.8437 to schedule an ultrasound procedure. A physician order is required.

Services can be performed on an outpatient basis, inpatient basis for hospitalized patients, or in emergency cases.

The team

You can be assured that your procedure will be performed by professionals who have expertise in diagnostic imaging procedures. Diagnostic images are interpreted by radiologists (physicians who specialize in radiological imaging and analysis).

The diagnostic imaging team includes:

  • Board-certified radiologists (MDs).
  • Licensed radiologic technologists, including some with sub-specialization in CT, MRI and other diagnostic imaging techniques.
  • Registered nurses.
  • Highly qualified and experienced support staff consisting of secretaries, transcriptionists and transporters.