Diagnostic Imaging at theVSCAN



     Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is considered to be the advanced imaging modality of choice when imaging the soft tissues of the body. This is especially true when imaging the structures of the central nervous system. Most neurological problems (including intervertebral disk disease, meningitis/encephalitis, brain tumors, strokes, etc) require an MRI to give an accurate diagnosis. With conventional radiography (x-ray) the resulting image is two dimensional with the tissue structures overlapping each other. This makes it difficult to diagnose many conditions with x-rays alone. MRI uses a strong magnetic field to make a cross sectional image of the internal structures of the body. A MRI study is completely non-invasive, however patients must remain completely still, so anesthesia is required. MRI does not use radiation like X-rays, but rather the strong magnetic field aligns the hydrogen protons in the body allowing them to be manipulated by strong radio frequencies. Since the technology is operating on a microscopic level it can detect small signals emitted from each cell in the body, making it ideally suited to image the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. Special technology within the MRI receives the emitted signals and relays them to a computer which, in turn, creates an image of the body part being scanned. This diagnostic technique is also useful in diagnosing certain muscle conditions and diseases in the chest, abdomen and joints. Depending on the area and suspected disease process the exam may require the patients to receive a contrast injection. The contrast helps to determine whether tissue is normal, inflamed, or cancerous. The contrast agent also helps define the borders between normal and abnormal tissues. Multiple scans are performed before and after the contrast injection for comparison. MRI scans of the brain always require contrast injections and post contrast scans. However, MRI scans of the spine do not always require contrast.

     Our High-field MRI provides clearer images in less time compared to low-field MRI. This means a more accurate diagnosis with less need for anesthesia.

Multi-slice CT Scan:  

     CT, or Computer Tomography, utilizes an X-ray tube that rotates around the patient in the scanner. As the patient moves through the scanner, the x-ray exposure is received by a digital detector which rotates opposite the x-ray tube. A computer is then used to reconstruct high resolution cross-sectional images of the patient. CT provides invaluable information for surgical planning of many spinal disorders. CT also allows for detailed visualization of bone, cartilage, lungs, and large soft tissue structures. Another benefit of CT scan is that an image can be obtain faster compared with MRI and is often used to quickly diagnose intervertebral disc herniations. CT can provide immediate information when caring for critical trauma cases. Our multi-slice CT scanner collects simultaneous data at different slice locations reducing the length of some studies to less than a minute.