Questions You Should Always Ask Medical Imaging Practitioners

Undergoing medical imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs provide doctors with valuable internal views of your body to diagnose disease and injury.

Feb 27, 2024 - 20:26
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Questions You Should Always Ask Medical Imaging Practitioners
Medical Imaging Practitioners

However, since some techniques utilize radiation or strong magnets with unknown long-term effects, you should always ask questions before and after your scan. Here are important questions patients and caregivers should ask medical imaging practitioners like PRP Imaging:

Why Do I Need This Test?

Always seek a clear explanation of how the ordered scan relates to your symptoms and suspected condition. Doctors should justify any use of radiation-based tests like CT scans and nuclear medicine imaging based on medical necessity to diagnose serious illness or guide treatment. Understanding exactly what the doctor hopes to learn or rule out with the images eases worries about exposure risk.

Are There Alternate Imaging Options?

Imaging choices span simple X-rays to complex PET scans and MRIs. So always inquire if another modality without ionizing radiation could provide the same urgent diagnostic information. Ultrasounds and MRIs avoid radiation to create images using sound waves and magnets. While pricier and less-accessible, they offer reduced exposure for children and pregnancy. Knowing all appropriate options allows informed decisions.  

How Should I Prepare?

Some preparations like fasting for a set number of hours or finishing medications before nuclear imaging improve image quality and diagnosis. Failing to properly prepare could require rescheduling your appointment or repeating scans. Also prepare mentally for potential exam anxiety by asking what sensations you may physically experience in enclosed or loud MRI and CT machines. 

Do I Have To Change Clothes?

Certain protocols require changing into patient gowns to prevent artifacts on images from clothing items. Especially for MRIs where any metal on your body (even snaps and underwire on bras) could heat up or distort magnetic field uniformity. Bringing your own non-metal hospital gown spares modesty. Other tests allow unchanged into comfy clothes avoiding zippers and snaps near the scan area.

Will I Receive Contrast Dye?

Intravenous iodine-based contrast media allows doctors to distinguish internal structures during a CT or MRI. However, dye allergies happen and renal failure risks exist. So always seek information beforehand on if the scan protocol includes contrast and why it offers better diagnosis over unenhanced imaging. This allows balancing risks versus benefits with your doctor before proceeding.  

How Long Will The Test Take?

Many factors from the body part image to complexity of the condition influence scan times. Expect at least 15-90 minutes for most studies, especially with multiple image acquisitions. For children and anxious adults, knowing anticipated duration calms nerves so you can relax. Short attention spans may require sedation for stillness, so ask if that option exists when scheduling pediatric, dementia, and claustrophobic patients.  

When Will I Get Results?

Test results require radiologist interpretation before going to your ordering physician. This vital step takes a few hours to a couple days for complex scan reviews. Seeking estimated result timing lets you plan next steps. Ask when and how the doctor will contact you about the findings. Receiving proper notification prevents wondering and worry.

Do I Need Follow-Up Exams?

If more information is necessary after the initial images, the radiologist may recommend additional MRI sequences or CT scan phases requiring return visits. Understanding likelihood of completing the study over multiple trips improves compliance. Follow-ups are also needed to compare changes of chronic conditions over time, so ask about future monitoring needs.

What Are The Risks?

Despite the benefits, imaging tests do carry small physical risks beyond radiation like allergic reactions to contrast dyes or burns from overheated metal implants in MRIs if protocols aren’t followed properly. Being informed on potential adverse effects allows symptom monitoring after exams. Seek information on who to contact if side effects happen.  


Asking the right questions before and after your scan empowers patients and caregivers to understand the purpose, process, protocols, results, and risks associated with medical imaging exams. An informed patient is a compliant and safe patient. So speak up and get the critical facts you need from the imaging team.

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