Radiology is the specialty that directs medical imaging of certain areas of the body for diagnosis and treatment. Originally it used X-Rays or other similar devices to obtain a visual picture of the body. However, today's radiologist undergoes extensive training and utilizes many different imaging technologies in order to get a complete picture of a patient's health conditions.
Avera St. Mary's radiology imaging capabilities include:
MRI uses a very strong magnetic field to produce images of a patient's anatomy. This is accomplished by changing the alignment of the hydrogen atoms in a person's body.
The magnetic field changes their alignment and as the strength of the magnetic field is lessened and the atom returns to its normal alignment energy is released by the atom. This energy is measured and sent to a computer where an image is created. However this process takes a considerable amount of time and that is why an MRI takes so long. Approximately 5 minutes per sequence and there are usually 4 sequences per exam.
An advantage to MRI is that because it does not use radiation there are no harmful affects to the patient.
Computed Technology (CT)
Computed Technology (CT)
CT uses a tiny beam of radiation 0.5 to 3.0 mm thick to create an image. The x-ray tube rotates around the patient's body while the table moves in very small increments. As the x-ray beam passes thru the body tiny sensors measure the amount and intensity of the radiation and send that information to a computer, which in turn creates an image.
An advantage to CT is that it is a very quick exam. With our new CT scanner at Avera St. Mary's we can scan from the top of your head to your toes in about 60 seconds.
Nuclear Medicine is a branch of medicine that utilizes radioactive tracers , known as Radioactive Isotopes, to evaluate the anatomy and physiology of different parts of the body. By tagging or connecting this radioactive tracer to different pharmaceuticals, we can make the tracer go to different parts of the anatomy. In most cases the tracer is administer by IV injection. After the tracer is administered usually there is some waiting time for the tracer to be accumulated in the targeted anatomy. Then the patient is placed under a Gamma camera which picks up the radiation coming from the tracer in the patient. This is sent to a computer system and is used to create an image.
The radioactive tracers utilized here at Avera St. Mary's are low energy and have a short half life. (Half life is the time it takes the tracer to lose ? of its initial radioactivity), so we can perform these diagnostic test without exposing the patient to a large dose of radiation.
Different parts of the body that we utilize Nuclear Medicine to help make a diagnosis are, Liver, Spleen, Gallbladder, Bowel for GI bleed, Lung, Thyroid, Para thyroid, Bone, Breast, Kidney, and Heart.
NOTE: Radioactive Isotopes are also utilized to treat some diseases. These Isotopes may have a low or high energy, but have a long half life. An example would be Radioactive Iodine (I -131), Utilized to treat thyroid cancer. We do not perform Isotope therapy at Avera St. Mary's.
Ultrasonography is an imaging mode that utilizes high frequency sound waves, higher than the upper limits of human hearing. Ultrasound-based diagnostic medical imaging is used to visualize, muscles, tendons, and many internal organs, their size, structure and any pathological lesions.
They are also used in the OB-GYN field to visualize a fetus during pregnancy. Ultrasound is also used to study the vessels, both artery and vein to evaluate flow or lack thereof. We also use ultrasound to evaluate the heart, known as a cardiac echo study.
Ultrasound is generally regarded as a safe study as it does not use ionizing radiation as in X-Ray, Nuclear Medicine or CT. However, it is a form of energy, and scans should only be performed for a suitable medical indication by a trained operator, (Sonographer).
Scans performed for Baby photos are considered by the profession to be unethical.
Breast cancer will affect an average of one in eight women sometime in their lifetime. It's the second most common cause of cancer related deaths in women, and study after study proves early detection is a vital component in the successful treatment of breast cancer.
Mammograms play a central role in early detection because they can detect changes in the breast that may be early signs of cancer but are too small or subtle to be felt. Digital mammography has greatly enhanced the ability to detect breast cancers at earlier stages. It's an ally in the fight against breast cancer available at Avera St. Mary's. St. Mary’s is the first health care provider in central South Dakota to feature the state-of-the-art Selenia™ digital mammography system from Hologic™ because we believe it's the best technology available.
Digital mammography is different from conventional mammography in how the image of the breast is acquired and, more importantly, viewed. The radiologist can magnify the images, increase or decrease the contrast and invert the black and white values while reading the images. These features allow the radiologist to focus on areas of concern.
This technology is made possible at Avera St. Mary's through a portion of more than $1.5 million in grant funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust for an Electronic Intensive Care (eICU) remote monitoring system and as well as this state of the art digital mammography system. This support allows Avera St. Mary’s to offer women the latest technology in mammography, in hopes of increasing the number of area women who follow recommendations for regular screenings. Early detection is the key to saving lives.
CAD (Computer Aided Detection)
CAD (Computer Aided Detection)
CAD is a computer system that has built in algorithms that are very sensitive in detecting minute density difference on an image. These density changes are important because they could represent cancerous lumps. The mammogram is performed and the images developed. Once developed the mammogram films are run thru a digitizer which electronically digitizes the images and puts marks on the area where it detects minor changes in density, many are often too small to be seen by the human eye. These images are then sent to the viewing part of the CAD unit where the Radiologist will view the mammogram films and compare them to the CAD images.
The CAD unit has been proven to increase sensitivity in detecting early cancers by as much as 20%. The Radiologist still has to make the final decision on whether or not the areas marked by the CAD unit need further follow up or not.
Avera St. Mary's recently purchased an installed a CAD unit and will be utilizing the technology in our mammography program, because breast cancer affects so many women and can be so devastating, Avera St. Mary's is committed to having the most up to date technology. This does not require any additional procedure for the patient.
There is a slight fee increase associated with the CAD, however most insurance companies consider it reimbursable.