Frequently Asked Questions



MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is a noninvasive diagnostic procedure that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a clear and detailed digital image of the human anatomy. By conducting an MRI scan, physicians can detect and identify a number of medical conditions in their early stages and therefore increase the likelihood of recovery.

Is an MRI safe?

Yes, getting an MRI scan is very safe. Unlike CAT scans, this diagnostic imaging method does not involve any exposure to radiation. In fact, there are no known side effects related to MRI scans. However, because it does involve exposure to a strong magnetic field, patients with certain devices like pacemakers and other implants cannot get an MRI.

Will I feel anything?

No, but you will hear a loud knocking or buzzing sound at various intervals throughout your exam. Other than that, you won’t feel a thing.

Does the machine use X-Rays?

No. MRI uses a powerful magnet in conjunction with radiofrequency waves to generate images of your internal organs and structures. There is no ionizing (X-Ray) radiation.

Will I fit?

There are very few patients who cannot be comfortably accommodated for an MRI exam.

Is the machine open at both ends?

Yes. All MR systems are open at both ends but some also have wider openings on the sides.

How long does the scan take?

MRI scans can typically last between 30 minutes and two hours. However, depending on the type of study, there are instances when the procedure duration can be even shorter with a more detailed MRI such as a 3 Tesla MRI. The patient is required to lie still while the machine takes a series of pictures. Each series normally takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Can I talk during the exam?

Though you will need to remain still, you will be able to communicate with the technician at various intervals. You are free to ask questions and answer any questions addressed to you.

Will the exam cause any pain?

Absolutely not. You will not feel any pain during the MRI scan. Because you must remain motionless, you may experience some slight discomfort.

Will I feel claustrophobic during the exam?

If you are prone to claustrophobia, make sure you tell your physician ahead of time. There are two kinds of MRI machines: open MRI machines and closed MRI machines. The closed unit completely envelopes the patient during the scan, while the open MRI machine is a large ring that patients pass through. 

 For patients who suffer from anxiety in closed spaces, the open MRI unit is ideal. We also cover ways to cope with claustrophobia and anxiety prior to your MRI exam in this blog post.

MRI scans are extremely common, with a total of 30 million performed in the U.S. every year.

 If you’re looking for an open MRI in the Dallas & Fort Worth Metroplex, we’d be happy to discuss our new Open MRI procedure and diagnostic imaging services with you.

CT Scans

What is computed tomography?

Computed tomography (CT) is a diagnostic procedure that uses special x-ray equipment to obtain cross-sectional pictures of the body. The CT computer displays these pictures as detailed images of organs, bones, and other tissues. This procedure is also called CT scanning, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography (CAT).

What can a person expect during the CT procedure?

During a CT scan, the person lies very still on a table. The table slowly passes through the center of a large x-ray machine. The person might hear whirring sounds during the procedure. People may be asked to hold their breath at times, to prevent blurring of the pictures. Often, a contrast agent, or “dye,” may be given by mouth, injected into a vein, given by enema, or given in all three ways before the CT scan is done. The contrast dye can highlight specific areas inside the body, resulting in a clearer picture.

Do computed tomography scans cause any pain?

No they do not. However, lying in one position during the procedure may be slightly uncomfortable. The length of the procedure depends on the size of the area being x-rayed; CT scans take from 15 minutes to 1 hour to complete. For most people, the CT scan is performed on an outpatient basis at a hospital or a doctor’s office.

Are there risks associated with a CT scan?

Some people may be concerned about the amount of radiation they receive during a CT scan. It is true that the radiation exposure from a CT scan can be higher than from a regular x-ray. However, not having the procedure can be more risky than having it, especially if cancer is suspected. People considering CT must weigh the risks and benefits. In very rare cases, contrast agents can cause allergic reactions. People should tell the technologist immediately if they experience any symptoms, so they can be treated promptly.

What is spiral CT? A spiral (or helical)

CT scan is a new kind of CT. During a spiral CT, the x-ray machine rotates continuously around the body, following a spiral path to make cross-sectional pictures of the body. Benefits of spiral CT include: • It can be used to make 3–dimensional pictures of areas inside the body; • It may detect small abnormal areas better than conventional CT; and • It is faster, so the test takes less time than a conventional CT.

What is total or whole body CT?

Should a person have one? A total or whole body CT scan creates images of nearly the entire body—from the chin to below the hips. This test has not been shown to have any value as a screening tool. (“Screening” means checking for signs of a disease when a person has no symptoms.) The American College of Radiology (as well as most doctors) does not recommend scanning a person’s body on the chance of finding signs of any sort of disease.

What is virtual endoscopy?

Virtual endoscopy is a new technique that uses spiral CT. It allows doctors to see inside organs and other structures without surgery or special instruments. One type of virtual endoscopy, known as CT colonography or virtual colonoscopy, is under study as a screening technique for colon cancer.

What is combined PET/CT scanning?

Combined PET/CT scanning joins two imaging tests, CT and positron emission tomography (PET), into one procedure. A PET scan creates colored pictures of chemical changes (metabolic activity) in tissues. Because cancerous tumors usually are more active than normal tissue, they appear different on a PET scan. Combining CT with PET scanning may provide a more complete picture of a tumor’s location and growth or spread than either test alone.

Where can people get more information about CT?

Additional information about CT is available from the CT Accreditation Department of the American College of Radiology, 1891 Preston White Drive, Reston, VA 20191−4397. The toll-free telephone number is 1−800−227−5463 (1−800−ACR−LINE).


What are X-Rays?

The word X-ray often is linked with the procedure that helps to diagnosis fractures, pneumonia and other injuries or illnesses. However, the definition of the word X-ray is broader. X-rays are forms of radiant energy— like light or radio waves—that can produce pictures of internal structures in the body.

How are X-rays used in a healthcare setting? X-ray images are important to helping physicians accurately diagnose illnesses or injuries. Medical X-rays, as these are called, are used in many types of examinations and procedures. Some examples of diagnostic procedures include:


  • X-rays to detect bone fractures, tumors, pneumonia, foreign objects and more. • CT scans to produce cross-sectional images of the body.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (P ET) scans to assist physicians with diagnosing and staging of various cancers.
  • Nuclear medicine procedures to diagnose a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease and certain other abnormalities within the body.
Is there danger from overexposure to X-rays?

People are exposed to radiation every day. Air, building materials, rocks and soil are sources of what is called naturally occurring background radiation. In medicine, radiation is used to diagnose and heal. In order to do this, trained medical professionals deliver it in doses that are higher than the amount people experience every day. This is why it is important to carefully monitor radiation exposure, both during each procedure and over time. Vanguard Diagnostic’s Imaging Services team is committed to patient safety.

What safety precautions does VANGUARD DIAGNOSTIC take during radiologic procedures?

YMRC’s radiologists and radiologic technologists follow these important guidelines:


  • Using the lowest amount of radiation dose possible to attain the needed results.
  • Imaging only when there is a clear medical benefit.
  • Limiting imaging to the indicated area.
  • Avoiding multiple scans.
  • Using alternative diagnostic tools (such as ultrasound or MRI) when possible.
What concerns are there about the safety of medical procedures that use radiation?

Medical radiation procedures are safe when administered by radiologists and radiologic technologists who are trained to use the least amount of radiation to gather the greatest amount of information about the patient’s condition. For higher dose procedures the radiologist considers past X-ray exposure before making a recommendation. For those who have had frequent X-ray exams and have changed healthcare providers, it’s a good idea to maintain an X-ray history (see form at right). This will help your physician make an informed decision about the exam.

Should I get an X-ray exam if I think I am pregnant?

It is important to inform your physician or a member of the Vanguard Diagnostic team if you are pregnant or if there is a possibility you are pregnant. While most medical imaging procedures do not pose a risk to a developing child, there is a small possibility of causing a serious illness or other complication. The Vanguard Diagnostic radiologic technologist who takes the X-rays will implement special precautions to ensure that the baby of a pregnant patient is not directly exposed.

Is there anything I can do to minimize my risk to radiation exposure?

Maintain a “medical imaging history” listing the dates and locations of your procedures and the physicians who requested them. Share this information with your current physicians to help them determine if new tests are necessary.

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